Ex-Dundee and Dundee United star Lee Wilkie believes Robbie Neilson’s return to Hearts is a huge blow for the Dark Blues ahead of the new Championship campaign.
James McPake’s men and Neilson’s Jambos are set to go head to head for a Premiership return when the second-tier action returns on October 17.
The former MK Dons gaffer’s Tannadice exit ahead of the 2020/21 top-flight season shocked the Tangerines faithful.
Neilson – who has now won the Championship with both Hearts and United – replaced ex-Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel in the Tynecastle hot seat.
In a Courier and Evening Telegraph podcast special to discuss the developments, Wilkie said: “I think it’s going to make things a little bit more difficult for McPake and Dundee.
“Neilson’s had the experience of the division and he’s done well there.
“It’s going to make things tough for Dundee.
“To be fair Dundee have a decent enough squad and are in a far better position now than this time last season.
“Dundee will be decent contenders. But Hearts should be strong favourites, especially with Neilson as manager.”
He added: “I think a 100-per-cent happy Robbie Neilson doesn’t leave Dundee United.
“On the face of it, it seemed to happen really quickly. But it wouldn’t surprise me if Craig Levein planted that seed a good while back – the potential for Robbie Neilson to go back. He really rates him as a manager and as a coach.
“I don’t think Robbie was entirely comfortable with the relationships at United and I don’t think he had the control he would’ve liked.”
Meanwhile, former Hearts, Rangers and Scotland defender David Weir is reportedly the frontrunner for the director of football role in the capital.
He is currently loan manager at Brighton after coaching roles with Everton, Brentford, Gers and Nottingham Forest.
Weir also had a five-month spell as Sheffield United boss.
Former United gaffer Levein was sacked as Hearts manager and director of football last October before officially leaving the club last month.