Scottish Premiership play-off first leg predictions: Saints can edge Caley
St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle will battle it out for Scottish Premiership status next season with the Caledonian Stadium hosting the play-off final first leg on Friday night.
Having managed a remarkable Scottish Cup and League Cup double last season, the Saints now find themselves battling for their top-flight status.
Inverness are the ones looking to replace the Perth outfit after finishing in third place in the Scottish Championship this season, before beating Partick Thistle and Arbroath en route to Friday's encounter.
Caley Thistle will be determined to make home advantage count and take some sort of lead to McDiarmid Park for the second leg on Monday.
For hosts Inverness, they must do without defenders Danny Devine and Wallace Duffy after the pair were shown red cards in the semi-final victory over Arbroath.
Manager Billy Dodds is likely to call on the services of Cameron Harper, who can slot in alongside the experienced former Scotland international Kirk Broadfoot.
With 15 goals to his name this season, top goalscorer Billy McKay is set to lead the line for the hosts, while Joe Hardy is in contention to return to the starting line-up.
As for the Saints, they will have to cope without long-term absentees David Wotherspoon and Chris Kane. Manager Callum Davidson made a host of changes for his team's last outing in a 4-0 defeat at Hibernian and should have a fresh side for the trip to Caley.
Inverness are the form team going into this encounter, having lost just once in their last 12 outings. St Johnstone have been struggling for wins of late with just one victory in their last six games but they do have a strong record against Inverness.
You have to go back to the 2016-17 season for their last meeting, with the Saints winning their last two clashes both by a 3-0 scoreline. Of the last seven encounters, St Johnstone have suffered just one defeat, while winning four and drawing the other two.
While Inverness showed great character to overcome Arbroath with a two-man disadvantage, the loss of Devine and Duffy to suspension does come as a blow.
Much will rest on the shoulders of experienced forwards McKay and injury doubt Shane Sutherland to get the goals against a Saints defence that has conceded 51 in 38 league games this season.
Goals for St Johnstone have been hard to come by this season with just a division-low 24 scored, but Callum Hendry should pose a threat after finding the back of the net eight times for the Saints this term.
This might well be a low-scoring and cagey encounter up in the Highlands but the visitors should be able to take a slender advantage back to McDiarmid Park for the second leg on Monday.