Hearts v Dundee United preview: Hearts injury doubts | familiar faces at Tynecastle | 2019/20 campaign starts here

Hearts will take on Dundee United on Friday night in the first game of the 2019/20 Scottish Professional Football League season.

Thursday, 11th July 2019, 4:34 pm
Robbie Neilson and Craig Levein during the former's spell in charge of Hearts.

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Craig Levein urges Hearts fans to give Robbie Neilson a warm welcome

The ex-Hearts head coach took over the reins at Tannadice last term and is looking to get the club back to the top flight of Scottish football at the end of what will be their fourth season in the second tier.

In the meantime, the two men will be looking to get the better of each other in a match that will go a long way to deciding who will finish top of Group A and secure automatic entry to the knockout stages.

Robbie Neilson and Craig Levein during the former's spell in charge of Hearts.

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Hearts team news

Jamie Walker is a doubt for his second Hearts debut after suffering an injury in the warm-up for last Saturday's friendly with Glenavon. Aidy White, signed last season but yet to play a single game, will also be absent along with Peter Haring. Steven MacLean is out through suspension, while Steven Naismith is not expected to re-sign with Hearts until August. Uche Ikpeazu and Aidan Keena are not 100 per cent fit but will play some part. Ben Garuccio remains a long-term absentee.

Possible Hearts team

Zlamal; Souttar, Halkett, Berra; M Smith, Cochrane, Bozanic, Mulraney; Clare, Washington, Edwards. Subs from: Doyle, Wighton, Lee, MacDonald, Currie, Brandon, Dikamona, Zanatta, Burns, Morrison, Keena, Ikpeazu, Hickey

Dundee United team news

Osman Sow is a doubt to face his former club after the striker picked up a calf injury. Star summer signing Lawrence Shankland is expected to be named in the squad, but may not start having just been signed by the club last week. Fellow new signing Adrian Sporle along with central midfield pair Calum Butcher and Ian Harkes are expected to play despite recent injury worries. Peter Pawlett is unlikely to feature having not played in any of the pre-season games.

Possible Dundee United team

Siegrist; L Smith, Connolly, Reynolds, Sporle; Butcher, Stanton; McMullan, C Smith, Robson; Clark. Subs from: Frans, Booth, Watson, M Smith, Bouhenna, Harkes, Chalmers, Wardrop, Shankland, Sow, Aird, Pawlett.

Magic number

1239 - The number of days that will have passed from the last time Hearts and Dundee United faced each other when the game kicks off tomorrow. It wasn't a particularly happy memory for the Jam Tarts either as they went down 2-1 to a struggling United side managed by Mixu Paatelainen. The Hearts boss that day? Robbie Neilson.

Key battle

Day one of the season and the Hearts attack is already looking patchy due to injury concerns and players being unavailable. Conor Washington is set to make his debut and if he's able to get off to a quick start and inject some renewed energy into the Hearts forward line then this could be a comfortable evening. Trying to stop him will be Mark Reynolds. The former Aberdeen defender made the permanent switch to Tannadice this past summer. He's been excellent for United to this point, but how will he fare going against top flight opponents again?

Referee

Kevin Clancy is the man in the middle for this one. The last Hearts game he refereed was the 1-0 home defeat to Kilmarnock after the top six split last season.

Odds

Hearts 1/2 Draw 31/10 Away 17/4