Scottish Football: Motherwell face test of title credentials

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The Independent Online
THE next eight days should go a long way towards determining the strength of Motherwell's Scottish title challenge, beginning with today's game against the leaders, Rangers, at Ibrox, writes Adam Szreter.

Tommy McLean's side are four points adrift of Rangers with a game in hand. They share second place with Aberdeen, who visit Fir Park on Tuesday. In fourth place are Hibernian, and they travel to Motherwell next Saturday.

Motherwell, who were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Dundee United in midweek, beat Rangers 2-1 when the champions paid their first visit of the season in October, but John Philliben and Paul Lambert are doubtful today, while Rangers welcome back their captain, Richard Gough, after a two-game suspension.

Aberdeen, at home to Hearts, have Stewart McKimmie back after injury and their new signing, Ray McKinnon, is on the bench. Hibernian are again likely to be without their captain, Gordon Hunter, when they play Raith Rovers at Easter Road.

Dundee United, who are at Kilmarnock, have a goalkeeping crisis: Alan Main, their first choice, is a long-term absentee and Guido van de Kamp has a dislocated finger. Ivan Golac, the manager, is hoping to sign FC Copenhagen's Brian Flies in time for today's game.

Dundee's player-manager, Jim Duffy, says, 'I'm not thinking of playing - I'm just happy to be alive,' as he returns to take charge after suffering multiple bruises and lacerations in a car crash. If his side, bottom of the Premier Division, are beaten at home by Partick Thistle today, his mood may change.

But even Duffy's problems are overshadowed by those of Celtic, who will just be happy to get away from it all with a trip to Perth today. Unfortunately it is only Perth, Tayside, the home of St Johnstone, and not Perth, Western Australia.

Lou Macari will be glad that his captain, Paul McStay, who was sent home with a virus shortly before Celtic's game against Kilmarnock on Tuesday, has recovered and will play at McDiarmid Park.