JOHN POTTER is hopeful his Kelty Hearts players can be competitive when they head for his table-topping former club this afternoon.

KDM Group East End Park will play host to the fourth, and final, Fife derby of the League One season as Dunfermline aim to further close in on the title and an instant return to the Championship.

If results go their way, James McPake's side could set themselves up to potentially clinch it at bitter rivals Falkirk on April 8, where Potter watched his Kelty team halt a three-game losing run with a well-deserved draw last Friday night.

It was a result that also confirmed the New Central Park outfit, who have taken seven points from a possible 12 against the second-placed Bairns this season, are assured of survival, with neither bottom side, Peterhead, or ninth-placed Clyde, now able to catch them.

The promotion play-offs look like being beyond Kelty – they're 15 points shy of Airdrieonians, who sit fourth and in the final place with 18 to play for – but Potter, who has served Dunfermline as a player, a coach and a manager, believes his players can give the Pars a test this weekend.

A scoreless draw between the teams was followed by two, 2-1 wins for Athletic, and Potter said of Saturday's upcoming meeting: "It's brilliant.

"I'd imagine there'll be a big, massive crowd, and they're very close to going and winning the league. We've had very competitive games against them this year and, hopefully, we can do the same on Saturday.

"I said to them before it (the Falkirk match) that, the two games coming up, we've got to try and enjoy it. They're great games for a club like Kelty.

"To come to Falkirk, with a crowd on a Friday night, is brilliant from where Kelty was three, four years ago.

"Sometimes people forget that."

Potter, who said that Kallum Higginbotham would be assessed this week, having missed their last three games with a knee problem, has been boosted by the return of experienced defender, Jason Thomson, to the side in their last two outings.

The 35-year-old played alongside Tam O'Ware at the heart of Kelty's defence at the Falkirk Stadium, with the manager continuing: "We've really missed him.

"He's hardly trained that much. He played last week (against Montrose) with a couple of training sessions. We dropped him into centre back and I thought he was brilliant.

"He defends the box well, he's the right type of person that can help, and is quite a calming influence as well.

"I thought he was really good. Hopefully he can continue from now until the end of the season."

When asked if other players would be given the opportunity to play between now and the end of the season, Potter added: "If they deserve it, yeah.

"Finlay does. Finlay Shearer's been excellent. He's now trained with us for five, six weeks, and we're now putting him on because he deserves to go on. He deserves to go on the pitch, and he makes an impact when comes on. He's desperate to get that first goal, but he's been really, really good.

"We had Kyle McCulloch on the bench as well. I'd have had no problem putting him on at full back or centre back, that's why he's with us. They're here with us because they deserve it.

"If I think they're good enough, and I think they're training with us well, they do well for the under-20s, they'll get their opportunity with us."