Rangers target Danny Wilson is too good to return to the Championship, according to his former Hearts team-mate Neil Alexander.
The former Light Blues defender has been linked with an Ibrox return following Mark Warburton’s appointment as boss.
The ex-Brentford manager has been joined at Gers by his Bees number two and former Light Blues skipper Davie Weir.
Wilson made his first-team debut alongside the veteran Scotland international aged just 17 and Warburton now hopes their friendship will be enough to lure him back to the Blue half of Glasgow after Celtic dropped out of the race to sign him.
But speaking at Edinburgh Castle following the release of the 2015/16 Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership fixtures, ex-Jambos colleague Alexander claimed Rangers could yet face competition for his signature.
Asked if Wilson was too good for the second tier, the Tynecastle keeper said: “Danny showed last year he was a level above the standard (of the Championship). He played to such a consistent level and was one of our main players.
“He was club captain as well and took that role and responsibility on his shoulders well.
“I’m sure whatever club he goes to, they will be lucky to have him.”
Wilson was skipper of a Hearts team which reclaimed their top-flight place when they romped to the Championship title with a 21-point winning margin last term.
But when it was put to former Rangers stopper Alexander that returning to the Championship after that might be a backward step for Wilson, he replied: “The only person who can answer that is Danny. I’m sure he has got lots of offers from different clubs.
“Danny had a fantastic season last season and his boots will be hard to fill.
“But Danny will make a decision on his own. He’s a bright lad, a great professional and Danny will go where he thinks is best for his career.
“All this talk of Celtic and Rangers being interested in him, we expected that because we know how good he is.
“I’d like to think he will have a few more choices so I’m not sure where Danny will end up.”
Celtic assistant boss John Collins ruled his club out of a move for Wilson.
Collins also confirmed the path was clear for Rangers to re-sign Wilson from Hearts after revealing Hoops manager Ronny Deila “won’t be pursuing” the 23-year-old defender.
However, the former Scotland midfielder is confident Celtic will not need to find a replacement for Virgil van Dijk.
The Dutch centre-back hinted last week that he was ready to make a move away from Glasgow two years after signing from FC Groningen.
But Collins said: “I’m in regular contact with Virgil and I know for a fact that he is very happy at Celtic.
“He’s enjoying playing and enjoying training and he has got two years to go [on his contract]. There may come a time when Virgil moves on but at this moment in time he is our player.
“We’re enjoying having him and I do think he will be a Celtic player come the first day of the season.
“When you have two years to go on your contract, the club are always going to be the one who makes the decision on whether they sell you.
“But we want him to be happy, of course, as well.”