SPFL Premier­ship prospects

KICK-OFFS 3PM UN­LESS STATED

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Dundee v In­ver­ness CT Mid­fielder Paul McGowan is all too aware of the qual­ity of In­ver­ness to start look­ing be­yond to­day’s mid-ta­ble bat­tle.

Dundee se­cured a Scot­tish Cup quar­ter-fi­nal spot against Rangers when they beat Dum­bar­ton 5-0 in a re­play on Tues­day. Their Ibrox match comes next week­end, three days af­ter a mid­week game at Celtic Park. But the Old Firm dou­ble header is on the back burner for Paul Hart­ley’s side as they face a cru­cial match against Ca­ley This­tle to­day.

A win would open up a five-point lead over sev­enth-placed In­ver­ness and put Dundee in the driv­ing seat for the top six, but the Tay­side club have not beaten this week­end’s op­po­nents in 13 games and de­feat would see them slip into the bot­tom half.

McGowan said: “It’s a big week for the club. It’s ex­cit­ing. But we are just look­ing at one game at a time. We don’t have a good record against them, we have not beaten them since we came up. So it’s go­ing to be a tough game. I’m a big ad­mirer of Ca­ley This­tle, the way they pass the ball and they can roll their sleeves up as well.”

Dundee mid­fielder Nicky Low is back in train­ing ahead of to­day’s match.

The for­mer Aberdeen player has missed two games with an an­kle prob­lem.

Daryll Meg­gatt is work­ing his way back to­wards fit­ness af­ter a her­nia op­er­a­tion while James McPake is out for the rest of the sea­son with a knee in­jury. Danny Wil­liams has re­turned to the In­ver­ness squad for the trip to Dundee. The winger missed last week­end’s 3-0 de­feat at Celtic Park fol­low­ing a fam­ily be­reave­ment.

In­ver­ness cap­tain Richie Foran (calf) re­mains un­avail­able, while it is doubt­ful Alex Fisher (an­kle), Josh Meek­ings or James Vin­cent (both knee) will play a part at Dens Park. Long-term ab­sen­tee Aaron Do­ran (knee) is still out, but goal­keeper Dean Brill is clos­ing in on a re­turn. Ross County v Dundee United Michael Gar­dyne reck­ons his old Dundee United col­leagues can save their Premier­ship sta­tus – by copy­ing the es­cape act his Ross County side per­formed 12 months ago.

The Stag­gies looked doomed to rel­e­ga­tion at the start of 2015 last term when they dropped six points be­hind the rest of the pack. But a run of eight wins and a draw fired Jim McIn­tyre’s men up the ta­ble and they even­tu­ally fin­ished eight points clear of trou­ble.

Gar­dyne’s for­mer Tan­nadice team­mates look in just as much trou­ble this sea­son, with an 11-point gap sep­a­rat­ing the bot­tom-dogs from 11th-placed Kil­marnock.

But Mixu Paate­lainen’s team ap­pear to have found some fight at last af­ter be­ing stung by chair­man Stephen Thomp­son’s re­buke last week. They claimed a sur­prise 2-1 win over Hearts last Satur­day and now Gar­dyne be­lieves that can be the launch pad the Tan­ger­ines need.

The for­ward said: “It’s in­cred­i­ble the sit­u­a­tion they find them­selves in. I don’t re­ally know what’s go­ing on there. The main thing for them though is they can’t con­cen­trate on what has hap­pened be­fore – it’s about what they do from now on that mat­ters. We were in their sit­u­a­tion last sea­son and it was about Fe­bru­ary time that we turned it around.”

Ross County de­fender Scott Boyd is 50-50 for to­day’s match af­ter an ab­sence with a calf prob­lem. Jamie Reck­ord is sus­pended fol­low­ing his red card against Hamil­ton while an­other full-back, Richard Foster, is also banned. Mar­cus Fraser (shoul­der) and Craig Cur­ran (con­cus­sion) re­main on the side­lines.

Dundee United mid­fielder Guy Demel is out of the game af­ter sus­tain­ing a ham­string strain against Hearts. De­fender Cal­lum Mor­ris suf­fered a set­back af­ter re­turn­ing to train­ing af­ter a knee in­jury and striker Henri Anier is sus­pended.

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