Ross appreciates why Neilson is able to repeat his fine campaign in the Championship

Hibernian head coach Jack Ross can appreciate Robbie Neilson’s repeat runaway Championship campaign all the more following his own success in the second tier.

Dundee United stretched their lead at the top of table to 17 points ahead of their William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round tie with Hibs at Tannadice on Sunday.

Neilson led Hearts to the Championship title with a 21-point gap over Hibernian in 2015 with Rangers a further three points adrift, while Ross enjoyed a 12-point gap when he led St Mirren to promotion in 2018.

Unlike Hearts and St Mirren, United were firm favourites for the title before a ball was kicked but Ross does not think that negates how impressive their form is.

The former Sunderland manager, who was Hearts under-20s boss when Neilson led the club to promotion, said: “He’s always been ambitious and driven. He has shown that from what he has achieved to date because he has been successful for a young manager.

“Moving to England in the first place probably didn’t surprise me because I think managers see it as an opportunity to test themselves again.

“Probably similar to myself, do you expect to then return to Scotland relatively quickly? Maybe not but it sometimes happens.

“He got an opportunity at a good club, a club that had the potential to go in the right direction, and that’s what they are doing at the moment.

“Robbie has had experience of winning that league, I have had the same experience, and it isn’t an easy league to win at any point.

“So for them to have the gap they have at the top of the table is testament to their consistency. They have been relentless in their form and it’s not easy to do.

“People will point to the resources they have but that doesn’t a matter a jot if you can’t go and get the best from those resources and they have managed to do that this season.

“It was arguably the hardest tie any team in the competition could have got if you are not getting a team in your own league. We know it’s going to be challenging but we are playing in the Premiership week in, week out and we believe we are a good team as well.”

Ross expects some transfer activity before the deadline with Chris Maxwell in the process of ending his loan from Preston after fellow goalkeeper Adam Bogdan signed a deal until the end of the season.

“I would expect there to be movement in both directions before the window closes,” Ross said. “Some of the direction out the way might influence some of the activity that is in the way.”