Rob Maclean: Celtic stutter, Windass scoring streak & Dons miss Shinnie

Graeme Shinnie leads out Aberdeen against Dundee United
Graeme Shinnie was not available to lead out Aberdeen on Saturday - and his absence was noticed

BBC commentator Rob Maclean provides his take on another weekend of Scottish football.

Do Celtic face a serious title challenge?

They drew at home to St Johnstone on Sunday, have picked up only one Premiership point out of a possible six this month and would be only six in front if they lose at Aberdeen this Sunday.

In answer to my original question, I think not. When Brendan Rodgers' Celtic team is asked a key question by domestic opposition, they tend to come up with the right answer.

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Highlights: Celtic 0-0 St Johnstone

The Dons were joint leaders when Celtic went to Pittodrie in October. The pre-match showdown style build-up was rendered ridiculous as Aberdeen were blown away 3-0.

The battle for the runners-up spot is set to go the distance with Hibs throwing down a challenge to Aberdeen and Rangers for second place.

But the recent Celtic stutter should not be overplayed. There's no contest at the top.

Windass keeps improving

The contract extension signed by Josh Windass in the past week could be a timely bit of business for Rangers.

The former Accrington Stanley player's value is growing game by game at the moment as his scoring streak continues.

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Highlights: Hamilton Academical 3-5 Rangers

The 24-year-old, now signed up with Rangers until 2021, has hit the net nine times in 19 days to take his total for the season to 15.

That recent goal flurry includes two hat-tricks, the latest in Sunday's crazy, wacky 5-3 win at Hamilton Academical.

There's lots of room for further improvement but Windass has certainly made significant progress under Graeme Murty's management.

Shinnie a big miss for Dons

Aberdeen skipper Graeme Shinnie, 26, has not missed many games since signing for his home town team.

That's just as well for the Dons. His absence in the 2-0 defeat by Hibs at Easter Road on Saturday left a gaping hole in the midfield.

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Highlights: Hibernian 2-0 Aberdeen

Rarely has Shinnie's value to Aberdeen been more noticeable than when he was not around.

Clearly there were other reasons for the result. Hibs were hugely impressive and could have won by a bigger margin.

But Aberdeen were a pale shadow of their normal selves and have to be concerned about how much they missed their captain.

Youth playing its part for Hearts

Andy Irving
Andy Irving was one of three teenagers to feature for Hearts on Saturday

It's got to be a record. Hearts played three substitutes against Ross County in Dingwall on Saturday with a combined age of 50.

First off the bench were Andy Irving and Euan Henderson who are both 17. And they were followed on to the pitch by 16-year-old Anthony McDonald.

Another 16-year-old who has already made a big impression this season, Harry Cochrane, would have featured at the weekend as well had he not been injured.

Youth is playing a big part in an amazing Hearts success story since Ian Cathro was sacked as head coach and Craig Levein went back into the managerial front line.

The Tynecastle team have lost only one of their past 16 games.

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