Dundee: Paul Hartley out to avoid Celtic title party at Dens Park

Celtic and Dundee players
Celtic and Dundee will meet for the third time this season on Sunday
Scottish Premiership: Dundee v Celtic
Date: Sunday, 19 March Venue: Dens Park, Dundee Kick-off: 12:30 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland, including DAB and online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Dundee manager Paul Hartley says his team will do everything they can to prevent Celtic having a title party at Dens Park on Sunday.

If Aberdeen lose to Hearts the day before then a Celtic win would secure the Premiership title, but Hartley wants his players to stand firm.

"We need the points just as much as Celtic do," Hartley said.

"There's a possibility that Celtic could come here to win the title, but that's not something that we want."

Although Dundee have lost twice to Celtic this season, the league leaders have won both encounters by only one goal.

"We have a game plan to try to hurt Celtic," explained former Celtic and Dundee midfielder Hartley.

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Hartley Premiership boss of the month

"We know we're up against a top team, a team in excellent form, and we know we need to be at our maximum to get any sort of result.

"We have to make sure that our total focus is on how we get a result against Celtic. The big thing for us on Sunday is to be on the front foot.

"There will be an excellent atmosphere, the pitch is incredible, so we've got to make sure we start well. We're bright, we pass the ball properly and try to cause Celtic problems with maximum effort but with quality and making sure we do the right things, defending as a team and attacking in numbers."

Hartley says that at this stage of the season, points matter more than the level of the team's performance, which is something he has stressed to his players as they try to earn a place in the top six.

The Dundee manager believes his side will need to win three of their next five games to achieve that after a season hampered by inconsistency.

Hartley was named Premiership manager of the month for February following wins against Rangers and Motherwell and draws with Kilmarnock and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, but his side has since lost twice in March - to Partick Thistle and St Johnstone.

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Scottish Premiership highlights: St Johnstone 2-0 Dundee

"We had a good February, but that curse of the manager of the month award has struck us again because we've had a poor March so far," Hartley added.

"That sums up the season that we've had, the inconsistency in our play.

"We've been excellent in some of the games but indifferent in other games. Six other managers will be thinking the same as me.

"It's been so much up and down this season. The main aim at the start of the season is to make sure that we stay in the division, we've only been in the league for the last couple of years.

"We want to aim a little bit higher [now] in terms of the top six."

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