Football: Saints' European target

SCOTTISH FOOTBALL
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The Independent Online
ST JOHNSTONE face what is effectively their second cup final of the season against Dundee at McDiarmid Park tomorrow - knowing they must be on song for Europe.

The Perth side, defeated 2-1 by Rangers in the Scottish League Cup final at Parkhead earlier this term, must win and hope that Kilmarnock are unable to secure three points away to the Premier League champions, Rangers. That outcome would be enough to secure a third-place finish and Uefa Cup qualification - an achievement the Saints assistant manager, Billy Kirkwood, believes would be well merited.

"It is up to the players to grasp the opportunity they have earned and the gaffer, Sandy Clark, and I know they can do it," Kirkwood said. "The players have come a long way this season and now it has boiled down to just 90 minutes to be playing for third place and Europe."

The Saints must again manage without the long-term injury victim George O'Boyle in attack, while the former Republic of Ireland central defender Alan Kernaghan (groin injury) is again ruled out.

At Ibrox, Colin Hendry is fit again and will start in the centre of the Rangers defence in an attempt to cement his place in next weekend's Cup final against Celtic. Neil McCann is also back after a knee problem, but Stephane Guivarc'h is still ruled out. The visiting manager, Bobby Williamson, must decide whether to recall fit-again Ally McCoist against his former club. Chris Innes is back from suspension.

Celtic travel to Dundee United with Lubomir Moravcik back in the squad for the first time since February. However, Mark Viduka is still absent with a shin problem. Tosh McKinlay and Craig Burley come into contention.

Dunfermline Athletic, who have been relegated, face their last SPL fixture for at least a year when they host Motherwell at East End Park, with their striker Owen Coyle emphasising that the Fifers are already planning for next season. He said: "We want to come back at the first time of asking. There was huge disappointment at going down, but we're already looking forward to getting at it and winning promotion next season."

Elsewhere, Hearts travel to managerless Aberdeen in a settled frame of mind, after a resurgent run of form lifted them away from what at one stage looked like serious relegation danger. The Edinburgh side will be without the suspended defender Gary Locke, who begins a two-match ban which means he will also be absent for the first game of next season.

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