St Mirren V Hearts at St Mirren Park : Match Preview
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Teale to miss out
St Mirren winger Gary Teale will sit out the third match in a row for the Buddies as they take on Hearts in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
The former Scotland cap has already missed recent defeats to Hibernian and St Johnstone as a result of back spasms and will play no part as the Scottish Communities League Cup finalists meet for a dress rehearsal of their March 17 Hampden decider in Paisley.
The only other absences for Danny Lennon's team are long-term injury victims Darren McGregor (knee) and Thomas Reilly (ankle).
Following consecutive victories over Celtic, St Johnstone and then Inverness, the Paisley men have managed only a goalless draw with Aberdeen before notching two more blanks in defeats to Hibs and their Perth namesakes.
Former Scotland international Gary Teale sat out both those losses after being laid low by a back problem and goalkeeper Craig Samson admits the winger's absence has curtailed Saints' creative streak.
He said: "You can't get enough of someone who is creating goals for you. He is a big outlet for us but is also a big miss while he is out.
"He's a really, really fit guy and it doesn't matter what age he is, he'll always look to take defenders on and get balls in the box.
"People looked at him when he came here and people thought he was just coming here to see out his career. But he's one of the best professionals I've ever worked with.
"He's in the gym every day and looks after himself really well. That shows on the pitch with his physique, his pace. His fitness is incredible for a man of his age."
Teale's former international team-mate Steven Thompson has missed the former Wigan winger's contribution especially but Samson says it is time for the club's midfield understudies to step up.
He said: "Big Thommo loves playing with Tealy because they have known each other for a long time. When he's fit, Tealy is always firing crosses into the box for Thommo to get on the end of, so he will be missing him especially.
"But this is a chance for other boys to come in and cement their place while he's not there. We've got Dougie Imrie, Graham Carey, Esmael Goncalves who have all been playing wide - so if these boys can step up to the plate, that's what we are looking for."
Hearts are without midfielders Scott Robinson and Ryan Stevenson.
Robinson has a knee injury that might require surgery while Stevenson completes a three-match ban following his red card against Dundee United.
Long-term absentees Danny Grainger (knee) Marius Zaliukas (ankle) and Callum Patterson (foot) remain on the sidelines while Jamie Hamill is still working his way back from knee surgery.
Hearts manager John McGlynn has urged supporters to unite and help the team hit back at rivals he feels are revelling in the club's crisis.
McGlynn believes some are taking great joy from "booting" Hearts over their perilous financial state, which saw them avert a tax-related winding-up order before Christmas and has been further clouded by the descent into administration of owner Vladimir Romanov's Lithuanian bank.
McGlynn faced criticism from some fans after his side's 3-2 home defeat by Inverness on Saturday, which left them eight points off the top six.
And the Tynecastle manager - who has warned that this season is all about the club's survival, despite next month's Scottish Communities League Cup final against the Paisley side - wants supporters to focus on external battles.
McGlynn said: "I think it's the same as Rangers last year, when you are down people just boot you. That's how it goes and I think Ally McCoist went through that as well.
"That's why I would appeal to the Hearts fans to stick together and let's fight against all the other teams that we have got to compete against.
"We have enough battles out there with everyone else without having to battle against ourselves."
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