Dundee V Hearts at Dens Park Stadium : Match Preview

02 November 2012 04:01
Dundee V Hearts - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Sutton suggests play-off system

Hearts striker John Sutton believes the Scottish Premier League should follow the example of Australia and introduce championship play-offs at the end of each season.

Sutton was a victim of the A-League system during a loan spell at Central Coast Mariners last season when his team finished top of the table but lost out to Brisbane Roar during the play-offs.

However, he still found himself becoming a fan of the format.

Hibernian, Aberdeen and St Johnstone all have the chance to go top of the SPL on Saturday but Celtic remain odds-on favourites to retain the trophy following the loss of Rangers.

Hearts boss John McGlynn this week claimed the SPL was exciting without Rangers and could thrive even more without Celtic, but Sutton feels play-offs would create fresh interest while retaining the attraction of the Glasgow sides.

Sutton, whose team face Dundee at Dens Park, said: "The manager made a good point in saying it`s probably a bit more competitive and tighter but going back a few years there was an idea coming from this club about the play-offs at the end of the season.

"That could serve both camps - you have your league champions but for other teams like Hearts and Motherwell you can still walk away having won the main tournament at the end of the year.

"You only have to look at when Celtic visit Tynecastle, the place is absolutely rammed.

"If you can imagine that for a game to get to Hampden for a Grand Final, it would be an even bigger match.

"They did that in Australia. It was a bit unfortunate for myself because we won the league.

"You get a bit of credit for that and a trophy but everyone soon forgets about that and you go into play-offs.

"It might not be the fairest way in the world, that the top team over the season doesn`t win, but it certainly creates a lot of excitement.

"With regards Scottish football, Celtic and Rangers have these massive fan bases and it`s hard for clubs to compete financially. But on our day I think we can do."

Hearts will be without Ryan Stevenson after the midfielder suffered concussion during Wednesday's cup win over Dundee United.

However, Darren Barr's red card at Tannadice will not affect his SPL eligibility.

Midfielder Kevin McBride insists Dundee remain united in the belief their fortunes will improve.

Barry Smith's men have lost nine of their 11 SPL fixtures to sit eight points adrift at the foot of the table.

Asked about morale at Dens Park, McBride said: "Surprisingly very good. The manager has stuck by us and everybody's stuck by him.

"Everybody's disappointed we're losing, but at the moment everybody's feeling good and we just need to start picking up points.

"All we need is that one win and hopefully we'll carry on from there."

Dundee's only previous win this season came against Saturday's opponents Hearts, on September 2.

Two months on, with the Dark Blues attempting to avoid looking at the table, another victory is vital.

Speaking at a Tesco Bank Football Challenge event in Dundee, McBride added: "Hearts are a very good side, with a lot of young players coming through, but it's a home game for us - we've got to go and try to win it. We're feeling confident.

"I don't think a draw's enough in the situation we're in at the moment, even though it's early. You try and ignore it (the table), but people remind you of it. If we can get everybody fit, start getting points and climbing the table, you will see a different Dundee."

A foot injury has limited McBride's impact this term, but now he is back to full fitness and eager to help ease Dundee's plight.

"It's frustrating when you're out the length of time I was out, but that's me getting back into training and I played against Aberdeen," he said.

"If you're injured and the boys are winning it eases it a bit for you, because you're getting three points. But we weren't winning.

"It's more frustrating being injured and losing as well."

Left-back Brian Easton has joined Dundee`s lengthy injury list after being ruled out for up to eight weeks with a hamstring injury suffered three minutes into last weekend`s defeat by Aberdeen.

Midfielder Mark Kerr was earlier ruled out for a similar length of time with a knee injury.

Davide Grassi (knee), Stephen O'Donnell (hamstring), Mark Stewart (knee), Carl Finnigan (knee) and Jamie McCluskey (Achilles) are set to miss out again.

Source: PA

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