Steven McLean in charge of Dundee United v Celtic

REFEREE Steven McLean will take charge of Sunday’s televised Scottish Premiership encounter between third-placed Dundee United and leaders Celtic at Tannadice.

Steven McLean referee
New experience: It is the first time McLean will officiate a league fixture between the two sides

REFEREE Steven McLean will take charge of Sunday’s Scottish Premiership encounter between Dundee United and Celtic.

The 33-year-old will be in the middle when the current leaders and defending champions travel to Tannadice for the televised lunchtime kick-off.

He will be assisted on Tayside by linesmen David McGeachie and Joseph Lawson while Don Robertson has been assigned to fourth official duties.

Scottish Premiership Match Official Appointments - 20th and 21st December 2014
This weekend’s Scottish Premiership match official appointments

McLean has overseen 19 games in all competitions this season – including a Europa League group match in September – and has issued 59 yellow cards and three reds.

It will be the second occasion he will handle a Celtic match this season after their 1-0 home defeat by Hamilton Accies at the start of October.

McLean has already encountered United three times including September’s Dundee derby victory at Dens Park and – most recently – their 1-0 defeat at Motherwell last month.

The Lanarkshire-based whistler has made huge strides in the past 12 months, culminating in his first appointment to a national cup final in the League Cup in March as Aberdeen beat Inverness on penalties at Celtic Park.

Steven McLean in Scottish League Cup Final 2014
Barely noticed: McLean’s biggest appointment of his career to date passed without incident

He made an assured Edinburgh derby debut in May 2013 and has also handled several New Firm and Highland derbies in the league with minimal difficulty.

McLean, who is the brother of former Dundee United defender Brian, is now seen as a senior official having been entrusted with various key matches in the 2013-14 campaign.

Among 42 games across all competitions, he oversaw Hearts’ 2-0 win over Hibs in March, Celtic’s title clinching victory over Partick Thistle as well as the League One play-off second leg between Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath.

Overall, McLean brandished 108 yellows and six red cards as well as pointing to the penalty spot on 12 occasions last term although his strict card-happy nature has somewhat diminished since the start of his top-flight career in May 2010.

He was criticised for handing out 12 red cards during the 2011-12 campaign but officiated at the 2011 UEFA Under-17 European Championships in Serbia, taking charge of three matches including the semi-final clash between Denmark and Germany.

The qualified fitness instructor – who is also a Referee Development Officer within the SFA, along with Craig Thomson – steadily established himself as a regular in the SPL with a talkative but heavy handed approach.

He was selected for his first high-profile match at the national stadium in January 2012 when handling an Ayrshire derby in the League Cup semi-finals as Kilmarnock beat Ayr United after extra time at Hampden Park.

As well as being lifted up the pecking order in Scotland, his notable improvement in recent times has led to further recognition on the European and international stages.

McLean – who has been refereeing since 1997 – has been a Fifa Category Two official in 2011 having first been included on the list a year earlier.

He has taken up the role of additional assistant referee for numerous Champions League games in the past as part of Craig Thomson and Willie Collum’s officiating teams.

Craig Thomson referee with yellow card
Reverse fixture: Craig Thomson was the referee for Celtic’s 6-1 win over United at Parkhead back in August

Seven points separate the two sides going into the weekend with United third in the table while Celtic are searching for a ninth successive league win.

It has also been confirmed that McLean will oversee his third Edinburgh derby – and the first of 2015 – when Scottish Championship leaders Hearts host rivals Hibernian at Tynecastle on January 5.

Assisting him on that occasion will be Douglas Ross and Stuart Stevenson with Kevin Clancy acting as fourth official.

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