SPL season preview

A team-by-team guide as Scottish football returns at the weekend

Neil Lennon: His Celtic side are overwhelming favourites to retain their title

With the Scottish Premier League set to kick-off this weekend we look at the 12-team division and predict how each club will get on. The demise of Rangers means it is all change in Scotland, with Celtic now overwhelming favourites to retain the title they secured last season. For the rest of the SPL though it has become a more even playing field than ever before, with Sky Sports leading the way with our coverage of 30 live matches complementing a wealth of highlights.

ABERDEEN

Manager: Craig Brown

Position last season: Ninth

Nickname: The Dons

Ground: Pittodrie

Capacity: 22,199

Players in: Jonny Hayes (Inverness, free), Niall McGinn (Celtic, free), Gary Naysmith (Huddersfield, free).

Players out: Rory McArdle (Bradford, free), Darren Mackie, Youl Mawene (Fleetwood, free), Yoann Folly, Mohamed Chalali, Danny Uchechi, Kari Arnason (Rotherham, free), Fraser Fyvie (Wigan, undisclosed), Mark Reynolds (end of loan).

Key man: Jonny Hayes

Chances: Big improvement expected after three years in the bottom six, Hayes and McGinn will add much-needed flair and width.

Prediction: Fourth

CELTIC

Manager: Neil Lennon

Position last season: Champions

Nickname: The Hoops

Ground: Celtic Park

Capacity: 60,832

Players in: Fraser Forster (Newcastle, £2m)

Players out: Darren O'Dea, Efrain Juarez (Club America, undisclosed), Cha Du-Ri (Fortuna Dusseldorf, free), Richie Towell, Dominic Cervi, Glenn Loovens (Real Zaragoza), Mark Wilson, Niall McGinn (Aberdeen, free), Daniel Majstorovic (AIK, free).

Key man: Gary Hooper

Chances: Inconceivable that Celtic will not win the title.

Prediction: Champions

DUNDEE

Manager: Barry Smith

Position last season: First Division runners-up

Nickname: The Dee

Ground: Dens Park

Capacity: 11,856

Players in: John Baird (Raith, free), Carl Finnigan (St Johnstone, free), Declan Gallagher (Clyde), Iain Davidson (Raith, free).

Players out: Graham Bayne, Ross Chisholm, Mark Fotheringham, Jake Hyde, Craig McKeown, John Gibson (Elgin, free).

Key man: Ryan Conroy

Chances: Promotion with less than three weeks to the start of the season has naturally left Dundee ill-prepared but the fact that every other team is cutting back will give them a chance of avoiding relegation.

Prediction: Bottom

DUNDEE UNITED

Manager: Peter Houston

Position last season: Fourth

Nickname: The Terrors

Ground: Tannadice

Capacity: 14,500

Players in: Radoslaw Cierzniak (KS Cracovia, free), Michael Gardyne (Ross County, free), Mark Millar (Falkirk, free), Brian McLean (Preston, free).

Players out: Garry Kenneth, Dusan Pernis, Paul Dixon (Huddersfield, free), Danny Swanson (Peterborough, free), Scott Robertson (Blackpool, free), Robbie Neilson.

Jon Daly: Impressed in recent years

Key man: Jon Daly

Chances: Another summer of change but Peter Houston has added wisely and the attacking threat of Gary Mackay-Steven, Johnny Russell and Jon Daly will prove difficult for most teams to cope with.

Prediction: Second

HEARTS

Manager: John McGlynn

Position last season: Fifth

Nickname: Jambos

Ground: Tynecastle

Capacity: 18,000

Players in:

Players out: David Obua, Ian Black (Rangers, free), Adrian Mrowiec (RB Leipzig, free), Stephen Elliott (Coventry, free), Gary Glen (Ross County, free), Jason Thomson (Raith, free), Suso Santana (Tenerife, free), Craig Beattie, Rudi Skacel, Kevin Kyle.

Key man: David Templeton

Chances: New manager McGlynn has to cope with a huge exodus but still has some of the best players in the SPL to complement the club's emerging young players.

Prediction: Third

HIBERNIAN

Manager: Pat Fenlon

Position last season: 11th

Nickname: Hibees.

Ground: Easter Road

Capacity: 20,250

Players in: Tim Clancy (Motherwell, free), James McPake (Coventry, free), Paul Cairney (Partick, free), Ben Williams (Colchester, free), Leigh Griffiths (Wolves, loan),

Players out: Ian Murray, Sean Welsh (Partick), Graham Stack, Garry O'Connor, Martin Scott (Ross County, loan), Matt Doherty (end of loan), George Francomb (end of loan), Tom Soares (end of loan), Isaiah Osbourne (Blackpool, undisclosed), Garry O'Connor (FC Tom Tomsk), Matt Thornhill, Mark Brown.

Key man: James McPake

James McPake: A key man at Easter Road

Chances: Improvement a must and very likely with the inspirational James McPake secured on a permanent deal but Fenlon has lost top goalscorer O'Connor.

Prediction: Seventh

INVERNESS

Manager: Terry Butcher

Position last season: 10th

Nickname: Caley Thistle

Ground: Tulloch Caledonian Stadium

Capacity: 7,512

Players in: Gary Warren (Newport, free), Antonio Reguero (Gandia, free), David Raven (Tranmere, free), Jason Oswell (Crewe, free), Ross Draper (Macclesfield, free), Simon King (Gillingham, free).

Players out: Jonny Tuffey (St Johnstone, free), Gregory Tade (St Johnstone, free), Greg Tansey (Stevenage, free), David Proctor, Thomas Piermayr, Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen, free), Ross Tokely (Ross County, free), Roman Golobart (end of loan), Kenny Gillet.

Key man: Andrew Shinnie

Chances: Another season in the bottom six beckons but Butcher will be seeking improvement after an injury-blighted campaign.

Prediction: 11th

KILMARNOCK

Manager: Kenny Shiels

Position last season: Seventh

Nickname: Killie

Ground: Rugby Park

Capacity: 18,128

Players in: Jeroen Tesselaar (St Mirren, free), Lee Johnson (Bristol City, free)

Players out: Danny Buijs (Sparta Rotterdam, free), David Silva (Oldhanese, free), Zdenek Kroca (Tescoma Zlin, free), Dieter van Tornhout, Ben Gordon (end of loan)

Key man: Gary Harkins

Chances: Financial constraints could bite Killie more than most and Shiels will miss son Dean after the midfielder joined Rangers, but the quality of football should ensure another mid-table challenge.

Prediction: Ninth

MOTHERWELL

Manager: Stuart McCall

Position last season: Third

Nickname: The Steelmen

Ground: Fir Park

Capacity: 13,472

Players in: Simon Ramsden (Bradford, free)

Players out: Steve Jennings, Stephen Craigan (retired), Tim Clancy (Hibernian, free), Ross Forbes, Jordan Halsman (Morton, free), Steven Lawless (Partick, free), Gary Smith, Jamie Pollock, Ross McKinnon.

Key man: Shaun Hutchinson

Chances: McCall will have to rely on youth more than most but a solid spine, allied with pace and skill up front should help Motherwell look up rather than down.

Prediction: Fifth

ROSS COUNTY

Manager: Derek Adams

Position last season: Irn-Bru First Division champions

Nickname: The Staggies

Ground: Victoria Park

Capacity: 6,300.

Players in: Ross Tokely (Inverness, free), Gary Glen (Hearts, free), Martin Scott (Hibernian, loan).

Players out: Michael Gardyne (Dundee United, free), Gary Miller (St Johnstone, free), Johnny Flynn (Falkirk, free).

Key man: Richard Brittain

Chances: Momentum from a 34-match unbeaten league run could carry County to safety and they are not lacking in SPL experience.

Prediction: 10th

ST JOHNSTONE

Manager: Steve Lomas

Rowan Vine: Should score goals in SPL

Position last season: Sixth

Nickname: Saints

Ground: McDiarmid Park

Capacity: 10,673

Players in: Tam Scobbie (Falkirk, free), Gary Miller (Ross County, free), Gregory Tade (Inverness, free), Nigel Hasselbaink (St Mirren, free), Jonny Tuffey (Inverness, free), Patrick Cregg (Bury, free), Rowan Vine (QPR, free).

Players out: Francisco Sandaza, Carl Finnigan (Dundee, free), Marcus Haber (Stevenage, free), Jody Morris (Bristol City, free), Derek Riordan, Sam Parkin (St Mirren), Cillian Sheridan (end of loan), Alan Maybury, Lee Croft (end of loan), Michael Hart (Airdrie), Peter Enckleman.

Key man: Nigel Hasselbaink

Chances: Have signed more players than anyone else but have lost captain Morris and their main strikers Sheridan and Sandaza.

Prediction: Eighth

ST MIRREN

Manager: Danny Lennon

Position last season: Eighth

Nickname: The Buddies

Ground: St Mirren Park

Capacity: 8,006

Players in: Jon Robertson (Cowdenbeath, free), Lewis Guy (MK Dons, free), Sam Parkin (St Johnstone, free), Grant Adam (Rangers, free)

Players out: Hugh Murray (Partick, free), Jon McShane (Hamilton, free), Steven Thomson (Dover, free), Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone, free), Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock, free), Aaron Mooy (Western Sydney Warriors, free), Graeme Smith, John McShane (Hamilton, free), Paul Mathers, Adam McHugh, Dominic Kennedy.

Key man: Lewis Guy

Chances: Lennon has seen his squad cut but his team have not necessarily been weakened and he will expect a top-six challenge.

Prediction: Sixth