Mehdi Taouil expects former Hearts team-mate Rudi Skacel to lift Dundee United and has warned that the Czech is fully ready to inflict damage against his former club.
Skacel is in line for his home debut against the club he has twice graced and looked set to return again before Hearts were hit with an extended transfer embargo. The 33-year-old, who scored 18 goals for Hearts last season, could feature in the Scottish Communities League Cup quarter-final at Tannadice after coming off the bench in United's 1-0 win against St Mirren on Saturday.
"He had to play and to sign somewhere. It wasn't possible here so he signed for United. I hope they are going to get a lift after Wednesday's game but not for Wednesday's game," Hearts midfielder Taouil said. "I hope he's going to do well there because I really like Rudi and he's my friend."
Skacel had been training with Hearts after leaving the club for a second time after scoring in his second Scottish Cup final triumph.
Taouil said: "He's fit, he has been training here with us and you couldn't see that he didn't have a team for a few months."
Skacel has already caused controversy at Tannadice by choosing squad number 51, a reference to Hearts' cup final win over Hibernian that went unnoticed by United boss Peter Houston.
"I think everybody knows what that means," Taouil said. "Rudi is a real Jambo and that's not a surprise for me. He loves it and I think everybody here loves him as well."
Such mutual respect could see Skacel back at Tynecastle when his Tannadice deal expires on January 30 - if Hearts have sorted the wage delays that saw them hit with a transfer ban until December 23.
Hearts manager John McGlynn admitted the "infectious" Skacel could give United a lift but he listed numerous danger men in Houston's team.
"With the greatest respect for Rudi, he's a great guy and a living legend at Hearts, the fans love him and I'm sure he loves Hearts, but it would a bit wrong to think that Dundee United are now a one-man band," McGlynn added. "I wouldn't want to be sidetracked and forget the focus because there's no guarantees that Rudi will start or even participate."