Hearts director of football Craig Levein offers no hint on the club's next boss
Last Updated: 02/12/16 12:47pm
Hearts director of football Craig Levein refused to confirm the club's main target to replace Robbie Neilson as head coach after his departure for MK Dons.
The Tynecastle club has accepted a compensation offer for Neilson, and Hearts U20s coaches Jon Daly and Andy Kirk will take charge of the team for Saturday's Premiership clash with Ross County in Dingwall.
Newcastle assistant coach Ian Cathro is a strong favourite to replace Neilson, with the 30-year-old having previously worked with Levein at Dundee United.
Although Levein confirmed Cathro has attributes to fill the vacancy, he is adamant Hearts have not yet made an approach to anyone.
Levein said: "I'm not going to get involved in talking about individuals. Ian is a friend of mine but he is employed by another club, so I don't want to talk about him.
"The profile hasn't changed from Robbie really. We are looking for a young, intelligent, energetic, enthusiastic coach who can help us move on from where we are. And that's the key, to try to get someone in who can improve us."
Although both Neilson and Cathro have worked with Levein prior to him occupying his current role, the former Scotland boss insists that is not an issue when it comes to the appointment of a Hearts boss.
"I don't think that's vital," said Levein. "The structure is important. There are two positions obviously which we need to fill. With Jon and Andy taking the team, it gives me a bit of space to look for a successor."
Having guided Hearts to promotion from the Championship, when they won the division with considerable ease, Neilson guided the team to third place on their return to the top flight last season.
But Levein played down the 36-year-old's decision to leave with Hearts currently sitting second in Scotland for a move to the lower reaches of League One in England.
"Robbie's a very logical person," Levein said. "He has always said he wanted to manage at the top level down in England.
"He explained to me that he felt if he could go down to England in a good, stable job and do a good job there, then he would have a better chance of getting a higher level club. He saw that as his pathway. Whether I agree with him or not is almost irrelevant.
"I don't want to be disrespectful to MK Dons because they have a bigger stadium than us and they have the potential to be a good team. He goes with my best wishes."I have a lot of admiration for him and on a personal level I really like him. He's a good guy and the amount of work he put in here to help get us back to a position where we should be, I will be eternally grateful. I think the Hearts fans and certainly the board of directors are as well."