Six stars to light up Scottish Premier League

Celtic are the defending SPL champions

The new Scottish Premier League season kicks off on Saturday following a summer of upheaval off the pitch.

But who will shine on the park? Who are the players that will get crowds on their feet and roaring their approval?

Here, BBC Radio Scotland pundit Allan Preston picks his six names to watch in the forthcoming campaign.

JOHNNY RUSSELL, DUNDEE UNITED

"Johnny Russell really stepped up to the mark last season to ensure Dundee United didn't really suffer from the sale of David Goodwillie.

"He is a fantastic all-rounder. He has great movement, finishes well and is good in the air for a lad that is a few inches short of six feet.

"He was on the fringes of the Scotland squad at the end of last season and now is the time for him to push on to the next level.

"Other teams will be aware of the danger he poses, so it will be interesting to see how he copes with a bit of extra attention."

  • Goals last term: 15
  • Made United debut in Dec 2007

JAMES FORREST, CELTIC

"He was last season's young player of the year and this lad is going to go from strength to strength.

"He is so quick and direct; a really exciting talent.

"He is always positive and wants to take on defenders. Working in the media means were are lucky enough to see a lot of football but this is a guy I would gladly pay to watch every week.

"He is now a fixture in Craig Levein's squad and will be a big player for Scotland in the World Cup qualifying campaign."

  • Goals last term: 9
  • SPFA young player of the year 2011/12
  • Named one of the 13 Players to watch in 2012 by FIFA

JOHN SUTTON, HEARTS

"This might surprise a few people but I fancy the big striker will have a good season for Hearts.

"He has scored goals everywhere he's been but his direct style just didn't suit Paulo Sergio and he was sent off to Australia for a spell on loan.

"He has come back reinvigorated and the new manager John McGlynn will welcome that since the club have lost a lot of experienced players this summer.

"His presence and knowledge of the game will help a lot of the promising youngsters coming through at Tynecastle.

"John Sutton is a real handful for defenders and if he leads the Hearts line I can see him scoring upwards of 15 goals."

  • Previous clubs include Raith Rovers, Dundee, St Mirren & Motherwell
  • 17 goals for Motherwell, season 2010/11

MURRAY DAVIDSON, ST JOHNSTONE

"Murray Davidson is a cracking player and if he can add goals to his game then clubs will be knocking down the door at McDiarmid Park to sign him up.

"He has an awesome engine and gets into wonderful areas with his runs beyond the forwards but he has been guilty of lacking composure at vital times.

"He is a great athlete and is attitude is spot on. His has a real willingness and desire to succeed.

"At a young age he is pretty much the main man in midfield for St Johnstone.

"He is powerful in the air and I'd like to see him to get eight to 10 goals, which would be a great return."

  • Captained club in Europa League this season
  • Signed from Livingston in 2009

IAIN VIGURS, ROSS COUNTY

"Ross County will be among the favourites for the drop as they get ready for their first season in the top flight but this man might just be able to provide the touch of class required for them to stay up.

"He has a sweet left foot and can deliver great set-pieces for some of the big lads to attack in the penalty box.

"He made his debut for Elgin at 15, so he's been around the block for one so young and, for a creative player, he's not afraid of a tackle.

"He got seven goals last season when County absolutely cruised to the First Division title but it will be a different story this time and he will need to dig in and do some of the ugly stuff to help his team-mates."

  • Goals last term: 7
  • Scottish Cup runner-up with Ross County in 2010

GARY MACKAY STEVEN, DUNDEE UNITED

"I know it's a bit naughty having two players from one team but this lad was on fire against Dinamo Moscow on Thursday and I've managed to stick him in as a late entry!

"He came through the academy at Ross County and got a big move to Liverpool at a young age.

"It didn't work out for him at Anfield but he's come back to Scotland and really sparked into life.

"He beats full-backs for fun and has a great range of tricks, including a mesmerising step-over, and he can whip in a great cross with his left foot.

"Like Forrest at Celtic, it's great to see exciting wingers light up a game and this guy is just brimming with confidence after a strong finish to last season at Tannadice."

  • Signed from Airdrie United in 2011
  • Clydesdale Bank SPL young player of the month in February & March

Allan Preston was talking to BBC Scotland's Colin Moffat.

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