SCOTTISH FOOTBALL: Motherwell will be hoping to bounce back from their League Cup defeat against Rangers in midweek and retain their place at the top of the SPL going into October.
The Steelmen have made the early running this season and are two points above third-placed Celtic ahead of tomorrow's encounter at Fir Park.
But they have had a difficult few days in which they shipped late goals to draw at Aberdeen followed by defeat at Ibrox, despite many onlookers expecting them to see off the giants of Division Three.
Celtic, on the other hand, will be confident after a comfortable cup victory over Raith Rovers that saw Gary Hooper scoop all four of his side’s goals.
Following that display Neil Lennon described Hooper as “a phenomenal player” and has revealed that the Englishman is one of half a dozen stars the club are speaking to about improved contracts.
The Parkhead boss will be delighted that his main striker has hit form at what may prove to be a crucial point in the season, given that the Hoops take on Spartak in Moscow in the Champions League four days after their visit to Motherwell.
Celtic have no new fitness worries and will be boosted by the news that Georgios Samaras is available again after dislocating his elbow playing for Greece earlier this month.
Well lost too many individual battles against Rangers according to their boss Stuart McCall, who has said he’s not sure who will be in his first-XI to face Celtic because “no-one has earned the right to start.”
Steven Saunders remains on the sidelines as he continues his recovery from knee surgery while Jonathan Page has gone to Hamilton on loan.
Elsewhere second-placed Hibernian face Aberdeen at Pittodrie in tomorrow's lunchtime kick-off. The Leith side — who have not lost since the opening day of the season — will be hoping to end the Dons’ run of good form.
Kilmarnock take on Hearts in a mid-table clash while Dundee United visit Inverness Caley Thistle.
Ross County — who saw their 40-match unbeaten league run ended last weekend — take on St Mirren in Paisley.
Their conquerors St Johnstone travel to Dundee to face the SPL’s bottom side.
Meanwhile Ally McCoist’s men remain on cup duty after the spirited showing that dumped Motherwell out of the League Cup in mid-week.
Having successfully motivated themselves for the 2-0 win over the SPL’s top side, Rangers return to reality against the part-timers of Forres Mechanics in the second round of the Scottish Cup tomorrow.
With three draws away in Division Three at small tight grounds this season already, the Light Blues will not relish the prospect of a knockout tie against the Highland League champions at tiny Mosset Park.
Rangers have fresh injury worries for the trip north with Ian Black and Dean Shiels both doubts while Fran Sandaza, Andy Little and David Templeton are definitely out.
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