Scottish Premier League

Fraser wary of Celtic backlash

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Fri, 03 May 2013 17:53:00

Watford full-back Ikechi Anya is determined to make it three victories in a row and ensure they have done their part should events at Hull transpire in their favour.

The Hornets' automatic promotion hopes have been boosted by back-to-back wins over Blackburn and Leicester.

"Things aren't in our hands, we all know that. We need to do what we can do," Anya told www.watfordfc.com.

"The only thing we can control is the three points at the Watford game and then, after that is finished, we can look at the other score."

One of Hull or Watford will be in the play-offs with Brighton, while the pursuit for the final two spots will also go down to the wire.

Crystal Palace harboured hopes of automatic promotion, yet they may miss out on the play-offs altogether due to a nine-game winless run.

However, with a two-point advantage and a superior goal-difference over Bolton and Nottingham Forest, a point against struggling Peterborough should be enough.

The Trotters are in sixth, level on points with Forest, and host Blackpool while Billy Davies' side entertain Leicester, who could also sneak in should they win and Bolton fail to.

The Rugby Park outfit narrowly missed out on booking their place in the top half of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League ahead of the split and, in matches since then, have struggled to pick up the points.

Killie lost to both Hearts and Aberdeen in their last two outings but McKenzie backed them to return to form in time to end the season on a positive note.

He said: "There are three games left and we feel that we can take nine points from those games.

"We just need to finish the season on a high. We feel as though we owe it to the fans.

"Things didn't go our way for the top six but if we can finish the season well, the fans will be happy and we can look forward to next season."

The 19-year-old has been satisfied with his own campaign but believes there is more to come next term.

He said: "I would like to have played a bit more and scored a few more goals but I broke into the first team and I played more games than I initially expected to and I played with the Scotland Under-21s.

"On the whole, it's been a good season and I know what I need to improve on for next season.

"I know what I need to work on in training and you can see that paying off when I play."

His immediate aim is to force his way back into boss Kenny Shiels' plans ahead of Sunday's visit of Hibernian after missing the last two games with a sickness bug.

He said: "I'm hoping to be back in the side. I've missed two games with a virus so I'm buzzing to be back.

"I was looking forward to the Hearts game. I didn't know if I would be playing or not but thought there was a good chance I would be playing so it was disappointing."

He added: "I'm expecting a good game this weekend.

"Leigh Griffiths always seems to do well against us so we need to keep him at bay.

"He's certainly the main man in the Hibs team and he has had an unbelievable season. He is a good player to watch."

The Taysiders have suffered successive post-split defeats to both Motherwell and Ross County to all but dash their hopes of securing a place in Europe.

United were pipped by Celtic in their recent Scottish Cup semi-final defeat after extra-time and now have only three SPL games left in which to try and finish the season on a high.

And Donnelly wants to see them banish their recent dip by getting the better of European hopefuls Saints.

He said: "That's got to be our aim.

"We obviously want to finish as high as we can with the games that are left.

"We got into the top-six and it was great with the Aberdeen result but since then it has been a wee bit flat which we want to change.

"We had a good performance in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic and we were a wee bit unlucky in the two games since.

"We didn't start the Motherwell game well and Friday night up at Ross County was a wee bit disappointing for us as well.

"But there are three games to go and you want to kick on as much as possible.

"You've got one eye on preparations for next year but we've got three games to play and nine points.

"Our message is let's go and try and get the nine points.

"It's a knock-on effect for everybody.

"There are players out of contract and there's the financial side of it for the club as well with moving positions in the league so we've got to go and approach these games like any other game."

Donnelly reckons the issue of professional pride will spur them on as well against Steve Lomas' men.

He said: "That's a big thing.

"There's self pride at stake as well.

"There might be chances there for boys to go and show us what they've got.

"The two young lads Ryan Gauld and John Souttar in particular have come in, have done really well and have held their own in the games they've played.

"We're definitely looking forward to the three games and it's not a case of winding down here - we want to kick on and win these games."

Dundee go into Sunday's Dens Park clash on the back of three consecutive wins and have lost just once in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League since John Brown took charge eight games ago.

But Aberdeen are unbeaten in two games under Derek McInnes and have yet to concede a goal since the former St Johnstone boss replaced Craig Brown.

And Robertson has noticed a new determination among players to rescue their Pittodrie careers.

The full-back said: "The new manager has different ideas. All managers have their own ideas. We have taken to him and training has been brilliant.

"It can only help you when you go into a game if training has been high intensity.

"He wants us to be a team that gets the ball on the ground and play football, to be exciting to watch so that it gets fans back to Pittodrie.

"It's a clean slate for everybody, boys who are out of contract and in contract. Some of the boys might have thought they were out the door already under the old manager but that's not the case now and they all have a point to prove.

"That has definitely shown in training with the intensity and the tackles flying in."

Dundee have averted relegation with each of their last three victories but they could be down before facing the Dons.

St Mirren will consign them to that fate if they win at Hearts on Saturday, and a draw at Tynecastle would give Dundee too many goals to claw back even if they closed a nine-point deficit.

But Robertson knows Brown will have his players motivated regardless of their SPL situation.

"Their new manager has come in and they have been flying," the 19-year-old said.

"If St Mirren slip up on Saturday, they will be all out.

"We will just go in and play our normal game. Dundee will be fired up no matter what, they have pride to play for even if they are down."

Hoops manager Neil Lennon allowed Kris Commons, Joe Ledley, Efe Ambrose and Kelvin Wilson to miss last week's game against Motherwell at Fir Park and then watched his much-changed side go down 3-1 to the second-placed Steelmen.

Georgios Samaras, Charlie Mulgrew, Gary Hooper, and Fraser Forster will all definitely miss this week's game with Emilio Izaguirre also set to be left out as the champions take a breather before focusing on the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Hibernian later in the month.

Fraser expects Lennon to have taken steps to ensure improvement from last week, regardless of which players are given a start.

The 29-year-old said: "We're not looking at the Motherwell game and thinking that will make it easier for us because it could well make it harder for us.

"I dare say Lennon will have made a few points to his players after the Motherwell defeat and he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who likes to lose even though they've won the SPL. I think he demands a lot from his players.

"There's no way players at Celtic can afford to slacken off.

"They've got a great squad and if Neil Lennon feels someone isn't throwing their weight then he can replace him with someone just as good.

"Everyone wants to play in a cup final and that's what they want to aim for and these games before the end of the season will have a big bearing on who gets the shout for the final."

Derek Adams' side will take confidence from Celtic's last two visits to Dingwall.

The Hoops snatched a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the start of the season and then surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 when they returned last month.

Fraser admits he was at fault for Celtic's goals that day and is hoping to make his side's task that bit easier this time.

The former Inverness and Motherwell goalkeeper said: "If you go down to Celtic normally they finish you off but if you can come back and win like we did then it's a big achievement.

"It's important that we give ourselves a chance in the game and not give away silly goals like I did last time.

"Our record against them up here is great and it's something to be proud of and it's not just the players and management.

"It's a reward for the fans who follow us through thick and thin so hopefully we can give them another big result on Sunday."

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