RYAN DOW believes that a positive outcome against Hearts can strengthen Dunfermline’s promotion credentials but believes the pressure is greater on their opponents.

Fresh from Saturday’s dramatic comeback win over Clyde that sealed a Betfred Cup last 16 tie at Arbroath, Stevie Crawford’s side host the Tynecastle outfit this evening (Friday) in a mouthwatering top-of-the- table clash that will be beamed live on BBC Scotland.

Robbie Neilson’s side, who have a Scottish Cup final with Celtic to look forward to next month, are favourites to win the Championship title and make an instant top-flight return and have won all three of their league fixtures so far.

Athletic, who have won seven and drawn one of their eight competitive games this season, are, alongside Raith Rovers, a point clear of the capital club having played a game more, and a victory for either team will take them to the summit for at least 24 hours.

Dow, who in the summer was appointed as the club’s vice-captain, is relishing the chance to go head-to-head with a Jam Tarts squad boasting players such as Scotland internationals Craig Gordon and Steven Naismith, and Northern Ireland cap Liam Boyce, who he played with at Ross County.

While respectful of the threat his Pars pals will face, the 29-year-old also reckons that their own strong start to the campaign will give them the belief they can get a result – and make a statement about their own aspirations to challenge for a place in the Premiership.

“They’re obviously favourites for the league, and a lot of people are tipping them to win it by quite a lot of points, but we’ve started well,” he said.

“We believe we’ve got a really good squad and we’re playing some really good football so we couldn’t be going into the game with any more confidence.

“Expectation is with them and it’s still early on in the season but if we can win on Friday it will just keep that momentum going. As it’s a shorter season, you just keep going game by game, and you never know what will happen.

“They’ve a massive club so they’ll always have pressure playing with Hearts. The way we’ve started, people are talking about us now, so they’ll probably be looking to beat us and show the quality they have.

“If you realistically want to talk about getting promoted, you need to get a positive result in these games, and they’re obviously one of the biggest challenges we’ll face this season. It’s still quite early doors but, then again, you’re nearly at the end of November already.

“If we can get a positive result, it would be massive going into the next run of games leading up to Christmas and beyond.”

Dow continued: “It’ll be a tough game. I’ve watched Hearts a couple of times – obviously they were on the TV first game of the season – and, after playing against Robbie Neilson’s teams, they’re always big, physical and have got a lot of good players.

“Obviously, they’ve got Naismith, and you can name loads, but Boycie, because I’ve played with him, I know what he’s capable of so we’ll need to keep him quiet if we want to get a result. We’ve been getting a lot of plaudits going forward this year but I think we’ve been really good defensively as a unit as well, so we’ll be looking to stay the same on Friday.

“We’ve got our targets that we set at the start of the season. I think we recruited well in the summer and, with the start to the season that we’ve had, obviously you’re going to get people that are going to start talking, which is good for us, because it means that we’re doing the right things.

“We couldn’t be going in in any better form so we’ve not got any excuses that way. I’m sure it will be a good game.”