THE PARS have picked up the winning thread in recent weeks and the nine-point burst from their last three matches has propelled them back into the play-off positions.

Betvictor have priced up a ‘finish in the top 4 market’ (prior to Tuesday’s match between Inverness CT and Falkirk) and have already decreed that St Mirren and Dundee United will fill two of those positions, so the remaining two will go to either Dunfermline, Queen of the South, Livingston, Greenock Morton or Inverness.

The Pars and Livi are 8/11, Queen of the South evens, Morton 9/4 and Caley 9/2. Although the ’Ton have only one more match against winless Brechin while the other teams have two, being only two points outside the play-offs with a game in hand on the three teams currently in it, their 9/4 price is the one to be with.

Dunfermline will be looking to consolidate their current run of form when they entertain Dundee United on Saturday. The Terrors were surprising trounced 6-1 by Falkirk last week and therefore will have a point to prove but the bookmakers make the Pars marginal favourites at 8/5 (Betvictor), a draw being 12/5 and Dundee United 13/8.

This is not a match to be overly dogmatic about; after all, the three recent Pars victories came against the bottom three sides in the division – but the points being shared appears to be as likely an outcome as any.

Prediction: Dunfermline 1 Dundee United 1.

The Australian Open is just around the corner but with Andy Murray being out injured, the competition has lost some of its lustre for the Scottish tennis enthusiast. Roger Federer heads the men's betting at 15/8 (Betfred), Rafael Nadal is 11/2 (Unibet), Novak Djokovic 13/2 (Unibet), Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev both 10/1 and then it is 14/1 bar.

The ladies' event is as wide open as it has ever been: Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova are all at 8/1, Elina Svitolina 10/1, Caroline Wozniacki 11/1, Maria Sharapova 12/1, Angelique Kerber 14/1, Petra Kvitova and Madison Keys 20/1, Johanna Konta 22/1 while it is 25/1 and upwards any other player.

The next leg in snooker’s triple crown is the Masters that starts on Sunday. Sixteen players take part in the tournament and the best prices for each are as follows: Ronnie O’Sullivan 5/2, Mark Selby 5/1, Judd Trump 6/1, John Higgins 9/1, Shaun Murphy and Ding Junhui both 14/1, Barry Hawkins 28/1, Mark Allen and Mark Williams both 33/1, Marco Fu and Luca Brecel both 40/1, Kyren Wilson 50/1, Ali Carter, Ryan Day and Liang Wenbo 66/1 and Anthony McGill 80/1. Each way betting is available at ½ odds, place 1,2.