Dundee v Hearts: injury news, starting XI, odds, how to watch

Hearts will be looking to defeat Dundee once more this season. Picture: SNSHearts will be looking to defeat Dundee once more this season. Picture: SNS
Hearts will be looking to defeat Dundee once more this season. Picture: SNS
Hearts travel to Dens Park on Saturday evening as they look to take another step towards the Championship title.

Robbie Neilson’s side opened up a five point lead at the top of the league on Tuesday night with a 3-1 win over Arbroath, thanks to a Steven Naismith hat-trick, while Dunfermline Athletic dropped points at Inverness CT.

Aside from a slip-up at East End Park, Hearts have won every league game, including the season opener where they slaughtered Saturday’s opponents 6-2.

A win on Saturday will put 11 points between the two sides.

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The Dens Park side will be looking for revenge after being billed as second favourites for the Championship, especially after the signing of Charlie Adam.

Dundee won just once in their opening five games increasing the pressure on James McPake but have since improved, unbeaten in their last five, winning the last two.

On top of that, they have the in-form player in the Championship in former Hearts ace Osman Sow who is joint-top scorer following six goals in three games.

Team news: Hearts are likely to be without Liam Boyce who was subbed in the first half of the win over Arbroath. He suffered a heavy dunt following a challenge from behind and has been nursing a calf and hamstring issue. There is brighter news surrounding Christophe Berra, Stephen Kingsley and Aidy White. The latter two weren’t in the squad for Tuesday’s game, while Berra sustained a head knock in the victory and was subbed.

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Possible XI: Gordon; Smith, Halkett, Berra, Kingsley; Halliday, Irving, Lee; Walker, Naismith, Wighton.

What Neilson said: “We said that this Christmas period into January was massive for us. We have three games in a week, we’ve got six out of six so far, now we play Dundee, then the Scottish Cup, Dunfermline, Alloa and Raith twice. It’s a really important five or six weeks for us. We’ve started it well and we want to finish it well.”

Match details: Saturday, 2 January. Kick-off 7.20pm, Dens Park, Dundee.

How to watch: The game is live on BBC Scotland with coverage starting at 19.15.

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Last meeting: We don’t have to go back that far for the previous fixture between the sides. Hearts laid down a strong marker for the Championship season by smashing six past James McPake's side in a 6-2 win at Tynecastle. The home side took a 4-0 half-time lead with goals from Michael Smith, Liam Boyce, Josh Ginnelly and Stephen Kingsley. Kingsley added a second, while Andy Halliday also netted. Charlie Adam and Danny Mullen scored for the visitors. The last meeting at Dens Park saw Hearts win 1-0 thanks to a scrappy goal from Sean Clare in March 2019.

Key stat: The last goalless draw between the sides came back in March 2001. A run of 37 matches.

Referee: Don Robertson – Fans will be hoping that the official isn’t a bad omen. The only other time Robertson has taken charge of a Hearts game was the 2-1 defeat to Dunfermline Athletic.

Odds: Dundee 7/2 Draw 14/5 Hearts 8/11