Scottish Football: Newcomers face intense beginning

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The Independent Online
DERBY DAY is turning into debut day as Dundee and Hearts parade their latest signings while Rangers consider whether or not to risk Duncan Ferguson against Celtic.

Dundee, who paid pounds 500,000, double the previous club record, to capture Eintracht Frankfurt's Polish midfielder Dariusz Adamczuk, will blood him against Aberdeen at Dens Park.

Hearts, who paid Hamilton pounds 300,000 on Monday for Jim Weir, are ready to let the centre-half take his chance against Hibernian as they try to stretch their unbeaten derby run to 18 games.

Hibernian have signed the Northern Irish international Michael O'Neill from Dundee United for pounds 245,000 and they include him in their squad. Gareth Evans returns after a three-match suspension.

However, the main focus on attention will be on Parkhead, where Rangers will make a late decision on whether Duncan Ferguson, Britain's most expensive player, will play against Celtic. Ferguson, who has not played since 4 April, came through a closed-doors match against St Mirren on Tuesday, but Rangers' plans for him are a secret.

Defender Dave McPherson, recovering from an operation, also played, and the Rangers manager Walter Smith said: 'I'm pleased they have both got a game under their belts. The final selection will be mine and it won't be announced until 2.30.'

Mark Hateley, missing against St Johnstone last week, and Ian Ferguson, who was carried off injured, are expected to be fit. Celtic have Stuart Slater, Charlie Nicholas and Frank McAvennie nursing injuries.

Celtic will slip four points behind Rangers after three Saturdays if they lose but Nicholas insisted: 'I don't think it's as vital as people make out.'

Dundee, with only one goal and no points from their opening two games, hope that Adamczuk will help them get off the mark against an Aberdeen side who hope to have Mixu Paatelainen fit after injury.