Dundee defender Darren O’Dea reckons Hibernian hoaxers must have been behind the plane banner stunt criticising Hearts boss Robbie Neilson.
The centre-back cannot believe any Hearts follower could be responsible for last week’s bizarre protest - because Neilson is doing such a good job.
Fans at Tynecastle were left stunned during last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Partick when a small aircraft was spotted circling over Gorgie trailing a message saying: “No style, No Bottle, Neilson Out.”
But O’Dea, who with Dundee will take on Hearts at Dens Park on Saturday, insists Neilson should be applauded after leading the third-placed capital club to last season’s Ladbrokes Championship crown and towards a return to European action this term.
He said: “My first reaction was that it was a hoax from another club, maybe a Hibs fan, because Robbie has done a great job there.
“Surely to God there are no Hearts fans wanting Robbie Neilson out?
Surely to God there are no Hearts fans wanting Robbie Neilson out?Darren O’Dea
“Have I been surprised that his team have done well this season? Not really. Maybe a little bit with how well they have done but not surprised that they have come up and found their feet.
“They were a good side last year, strong and well organised. They have a bit of everything in their side.
“The Championship was a strong division last year and is again this season. So I think the bridge is not that big to cross.
“Maybe they have gone a little bit beyond expectations but we know we will be in for a tough game on Saturday.”
Hearts hope to unveil new signing Perry Kitchen when they travel to Tayside this weekend after securing his switch from DC United.
But O’Dea has already crossed swords with the American midfielder following a stint in the MLS with Toronto FC and says Hearts should be pleased with their capture.
“I’ve played against him a couple of times and he’s a good player,” said the Irishman. “He’ll be a good addition for Hearts. I wish him all the best - but only after Saturday obviously.
“I was actually surprised Hearts got him because he’s highly rated in the MLS. There was certainly interest from other clubs there and the MLS is a league on the rise.
“So it says a lot for Scotland that he has chosen to come here.”
The Dark Blues are looking to bounce back after a humbling 4-0 defeat to Rangers in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash.
But O’Dea does not believe that painful loss will knock his team off their stride as they look to cement their place in the top six.
Dundee are a point in front of seventh-placed Motherwell but have a game in hand.
The former Celtic player said: “We’ve had to pick ourselves up after the Rangers defeat but it’s been fairly easy. We were on a great run before the game but it just didn’t happen on the day at Ibrox.
“We were disappointed but if you let one performance define you as a team, then you will struggle. It’s not about getting back on form. Last week was a blip in a good run.”
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