Bhoys may have to wait

  • By: Gareth Friel
  • Last Updated: October 5 2012, 13:55 BST

Gareth Friel previews this weekend's action in the SPL and thinks Hearts could frustrate Celtic on Sunday.

Lennon: Could freshen up his Celtic team

The Old Firm derby may be gone from the SPL for the next few seasons at least, but we've already had the first all-Dundee clash for seven years and this Friday sees the first ever Highland derby in the top flight.

Ross County won the First Division in a canter last season to join their rivals Inverness in the SPL and with eight games played, both sides sit on eight points.

The newly-promoted Staggies started the season well, not losing until two weeks ago when they were beaten 2-1 by St Johnstone, a result that ended an incredible 40-match unbeaten league run.

Boss Derek Adams will be slightly worried that his side made it successive losses last week against St Mirren, especially given they lost five goals.

While County may be on a slight downward curve, Caley are moving in the opposite direction. They were dire in the first half of their match against Hibs two weeks ago and trailed 2-0 at the break. But in the second 45 they scored twice and were much improved and last weekend showed that level of performance over a whole game as they thumped Dundee Utd 4-0.

They are favourites to win this match at a general 11/8 which seems pretty fair. It's the anytime goalscorer market that could proved value though.

Forward Andrew Shinnie netted eight times for Terry Butcher's side last season and has already scored five this term, including against Dundee Utd last week.

Shinnie is a player worth backing when he is hot. Last season's eight goals were scored in 11 games and he's netted in consecutive matches on three separate occasions in the last year. Backing him at 3/1 looks like good value.

On Sunday, Celtic follow their Champions League success in Moscow with a visit of Hearts.

It has taken a bit of time for Celtic to get going in the SPL and much of their focus has been on continental action but they were very impressive at Fir Park in a 2-0 win over Motherwell last weekend.

Their first ever away win in the Champions League group stages will have taken plenty out of the players and boss Neil Lennon may opt to freshen up his starting XI.

Celtic have struggled at times in the SPL to match their European performances and that may be the case again against the Jambos.

I'd still expect Celtic to come out on top but it may take them a bit of time to get going. And Hearts won't make it easy for them. They will attempt to be dogged and hit Celtic on the break.

Hearts have had a few shockers this season but look more comfortable playing away from home than at Tynecastle and backing draw/Celtic in the half-time/full-time market at 7/2 could pay dividends.

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