FORMER Rangers defender Davie Weir believes Hearts have what it takes to mount a serious challenge for the Premiership title this term - because Celtic and Rangers could find themselves 'distracted' by European football.

Weir spent three seasons at Tynecastle between 1996 and 1999 and also enjoyed a successful five-year stint in Govan playing under Ibrox legend Walter Smith towards the end of his career.

Robbie Neilson's side are the Premiership's only unbeaten team after 10 games this season and trail the champions by three points - but have defeated Celtic and snatched a draw against Rangers.

Weir reckons that so long as the Jambos can keep pace with the league leaders until the transfer window reopens in January, they have a chance of winning a top-flight title for the first time since 1960.

And the former Everton defender thinks that the capital club can take advantage as both halves of the Old Firm split their focus between the domestic game and European football.

When asked by Football Pass if he thought Hearts are capable of mounting a legitimate title challenge this season, Weir replied: "Yeah, they definitely are.

"It's very early in the season, and neither Rangers or Celtic are firing on all cylinders, so there is definitely an opportunity there.

"I think the European games are a little bit of a distraction for both Rangers and Celtic as well.

"Dundee United have started well, Hibs have started well, so the league is competitive.

"I think this league is a strong league, and there are real grounds for teams to make a serious challenge and have an affect on the top level of the league, and Hearts are capable of that.

"If they can stay in and about it until January, then improve and push again, they can definitely make an impression and challenge at that end."

Having played for Hearts and Rangers, Weir knows exactly what it takes to get a title bid over the line - and how difficult it is for a team outside of Glasgow's big two to go all the way.

"[Hearts] have to keep the consistency up, which is obviously the hardest thing," he added.

"I've been in it with Hearts, when we were getting down to the last five or six games with Rangers or Celtic, and on that occasion and occasions before, Rangers and Celtic's resources have just proved to be that bit stronger.

"In our case we got a couple of injuries and probably didn't quite have the capacity in the squad to deal with that, whereas Rangers and Celtic do.

"Rangers have real depth in their squad, I think that's obvious to see, and I think Celtic are building that as well, whereas Hearts probably don't quite have that yet."