St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin believes Hearts will be a “force to be reckoned with” on their return to the cinch Premiership.
The Gorgie club were controversially demoted from the top flight on a points-per-game basis in 2020 when the season was curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Robbie Neilson’s side convincingly won the Championship last season and in their first game back in the Premiership last week they scored a last-gasp winner to beat Celtic 2-1 at Tynecastle.
Ahead of the Buddies’ first home league game of the season against the Edinburgh outfit, Goodwin insisted he “wasn’t surprised in the slightest” at Hearts’ victory over the Hoops and noted the quality and experience within the Jambos squad.
“I am absolutely delighted that Hearts are back in the league,” said the former Saints skipper, who will have a fully-fit squad for Saturday following a 2-2 draw at Dundee on the opening day last weekend.
“There is no doubt that they are a well-run club.
“Everyone knows the circumstances which surrounded their relegation a couple of seasons ago.
“It wasn’t ideal for anybody, I don’t think it sat well with anybody in the game, unfortunately it was a difficult decision that had to be made at the time.
“But I am pleased that Robbie was able to get the job done last season.
“They won the league comfortably which I don’t think was a great surprise to anybody when you saw the strength in depth they had available and they are definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with this season. There is no doubt in my mind.
“You go right through their team and they have some great experience, Craig Gordon is still one of the best goalkeepers in the country.
“Big (John) Souttar, if they can keep him fit, he looked back to his best the other night, Liam Boyce through the middle of the pitch, (Gary) Mackay-Steven playing at the top level, Andy Halliday there in the middle of the park.
“So they are undoubtedly a Premiership club and deserve to be back in the big league and we are pleased to have them back there but would certainly like to upset a few of them at the weekend.”