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Scottish Premiership picks: Semi-finalists clash & St Mirren look to defy odds

Scottish Premiership picks

Four rearranged matches make up Wednesday’s Scottish Premiership fixture card, with important points on offer in both halves of the table.

The eight teams will turn their attention to the Scottish Cup at the weekend and will be eager to build or maintain confidence for those ties and their league return at the end of the month.

Here’s what to look out for…

Game of the day – Kilmarnock v Rangers

These two sides return to league action at Rugby Park after contrasting League Cup semi-final fortunes, but both should go into the game buoyed by their performances.

Rangers for the more obvious reasons. The Ibrox side, who sit second top of the Premiership, are now nine games unbeaten after what is becoming a regular fightback to win from behind, this time after extra-time against Aberdeen.

Kilmarnock missed out on meeting Michael Beale’s side in next month’s final at Hampden after suffering their second 2-0 defeat by Celtic within a week. However, in both games, they showed they could trouble the league leaders.

In their absence from Premiership action, Kilmarnock dropped to second bottom behind Dundee United on goal difference, but manager Derek McInnes will take heart from the threat they posed at the national stadium.

Rangers have lost on four of their latest six league visits to Rugby Park, where Kilmarnock have only lost one of their last nine and where the Ibrox side have won just three times in 11 outings.

However, to deliver a blow to the Glasgow side’s title hopes on this occasion, the Ayrshire side will have to end a run of four straight defeats by Rangers – all without scoring a goal.

Player to watch – Garang Kuol (Heart of Midlothian)

Garang Kuol at Hearts' training ground
Garang Kuol has come from the heat of Australia and Qatar to Edinburgh via Newcastle

By his own admission, Garang Kuol has had a surreal few months leading up to and including his loan spell at Hearts.

The 18-year-old forward, born in Egypt, signed a pre-contract agreement with Newcastle United in September – only five months after making his senior debut for Central Coast Mariners.

Then, following two substitute appearances for Australia at the World Cup finals in Qatar, he was immediately sent north by the Premier League club once the January transfer window opened.

Kuol made an equally instant impression in his 15-minute debut cameo as a substitute as Hearts beat St Mirren on Friday. Might he be afforded more game time against Aberdeen?

Manager in the spotlight – Stephen Robinson (St Mirren)

Carlo Ancelotti. Marco Rose. Stephen Robinson. The only three managers to have enjoyed victory over Celtic this season.

St Mirren’s landmark 2-0 win in Paisley in mid-September was emblematic of what has been an impressive campaign so far. However, Robinson’s side have not won since Christmas Eve and that was their first victory since October.

Three draws in recent weeks have kept them ticking over in terms of the table but Hearts and Livingston are setting the pace.

Ancelotti and Rose have beaten Celtic twice this season and, for Robinson to be added to that list, St Mirren will have to produce an even better performance than their home win against Ange Postecoglou’s side.

Celtic’s league record at home this term reads played 10, won 10. Indeed, it was early May – last season – when the champions last dropped points in the east end of Glasgow.

If St Mirren avoid defeat at all, they will have set another landmark.