Neilson in the frame to face Hearts

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Robbie NEILSON could face Hearts in the tangerine of Dundee United on Saturday after the former Jambo signed a six-month contract with Peter Houston’s side.

Neilson made close to 250 appearances for Hearts in 13 years at Tynecastle before spells at Leicester and Brentford but, after penning a deal with United until the end of the season, the right back may line up against his former team in an SPL meeting at Tannadice on Saturday.

Houston, a former youth coach and assistant manager at Hearts, said Neilson will offer versatility and, despite having not played a competitive match for six months, immediate defensive cover for United.

“I know what we’re going to get,” said Houston. “He’s one I had as youth coach at Hearts.

“Robbie can cover anywhere in the back four which is important as we’re very short of bodies at the back. He’s fit enough to play right away. I would like to think the fans will take to him for the way he plays.”

Neilson, who helped Hearts win the 2006 Scottish Cup, turned down offers to remain in England in favour of a return north. At 31, he has already begun work towards his UEFA “B” licence coaching certificate, but Houston insists there could be a long-term future for the player in the SPL.

“Robbie will sign until the end of the season and if he does well, I’d be looking to keep him on,” said the United boss.