A trip to the Highlands with a chance for Dunfermline to move back to the top of the Championship
SPFL Championship - Saturday 28 October 2017 - Caledonian Stadium - KO 3.00pm
Two clubs with Premiership aspirations meet up north tomorrow, with the home side enduring a poor start to the season but hinting at better things after a win over Dundee United last week. Visitors Dunfermline bounced back from a 3 game winless run with a victory last week and could go back to the top of the division if leaders St Mirren lose or draw their game at home to Morton.
Here is the current Championship table:
THE OPPOSITION: INVERNESS
2017/18 League record:
Following their relegation from the Premiership last season, Inverness were considered one of the Championship's promotion favourites before the season began. However, a terrible start, with only one league victory (over bottom placed Brechin) in the opening quarter of games saw the Highlanders fall dangerously close to the relegation play-off position, with last week's win at Dundee United keeping them in 8th place. Manager John Robertson was appointed in the summer after previously enjoying a successful period as Inverness boss from 2002-2004. With managerial sackings almost a daily occurence, the Inverness board have resisted an early season dismissal and have put their faith in Robertson - which is only correct and is a refreshing change to the ridiculous hire and fire culture in football management.
The win over United - which led to the firing of Ray McKinnon as United boss - will have given Inverness a boost, with Robertson making positive comments in the local media during the week. To many, Inverness are still seen as a Premiership club and it would be a surprise if, come the end of the season, they are still near the relegation trapdoor.
Last weekend's impressive win over Livingston saw Dunfermline regain the poise and form of the opening weeks of the season, with a renewed sense of energy in the team. Much of this was down to the display of Fraser Aird on the left wing, brought into the team for a first start since the opening game of the season. Aird scored a great goal and provided an assist for the third Pars goal, scored by Kallum Higginbotham. The victory also coincided with manager Allan Johnston playing actual wingers on both wings, after 3 games of playing different centre forwards on the left wing.
Joe Cardle made a sub appearance last week and ordinarily might have been expected, a week later, to regain his left wing place in the side after his injury absence. Aird, though, cannot be dropped after his man of the match display against Livi.
In midfield, Dean Shiels could return, in place of Aaron Splaine. Although the Splaine/Shiels selection decision could be seen as similar to Aird/ Cardle, Splaine has not quite done enough for me in the games he has played in Shiels' absence. I expect Johnston to select Splaine, but I would start with Shiels, simply because he is a better footballer than Splaine, and Splaine hasn't made the impact that Aird did last week.
The defence and remainder of the midfield picks itself. Up front, I have selected Declan McManus in place of a non-scoring Nicky Clark. Although Clark played reasonably well last week, I felt the decision to drop McManus for the Livi game was harsh. I feel that tomorrow's game will also require a more physical approach, and so it's McManus alongside Callum Smith for me.
Preferred starting 11, based on comments above:
Dean Shiels photo plus John Robertson edit both by Pars Review.
Match report/option with photos will be posted here around 11.00pm tomorrow evening.
Ben's "DA Talk" YouTube channel will have a video match preview up soon, which will be posted here or via this site's Video Zone, which can be accessed on the front page or through the dropdown menu at the top of the page.