HEARTS received a timely boost today as manager Gary Locke announced that his only recognised centre-forward, Dale Carrick, should be fit for Sunday’s Edinburgh derby against Hibs.
The 19-year-old was due to resume training at Riccarton this morning after overcoming a knee injury.
Locke stressed the need for more attacking threat from Hearts following yesterday’s 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone on the opening weekend of the new Scottish Premiership. Carrick’s return, therefore, comes at an ideal juncture.
Ryan Stevenson and Callum Paterson, both predominantly midfielders, filled the striking roles at McDiarmid Park but the quality of Hearts’ play in forward areas was criticised by their manager after the match. Locke cannot sign any players with his club in administration but he demanded an improvement for this weekend and is keen to have Carrick involved.
“Dale was injured yesterday due to a knee problem but he’ll be back training this week and hopefully be available for the derby,” Locke told the Evening News. “We will have to do better in the final third. Neither team had a lot of chances yesterday but our final ball and our decisions in the final third are going to have to be better.
“We didn’t really look like scoring. In the second half, we floated a lot of balls into the box but didn’t create a lot. We have to improve on that. I think that’s to be expected but I’m not the type of person to make excuses. We’ve got the squad we’ve got, we have to try and make the most of it. If we get better balls into the box it can only help. We’re hoping to be better in the final third against Hibs and give the fans the goal they deserve.” Around 3500 Hearts fans journeyed to Perth and cheered their team from the field despite Stevie May’s match-winning goal for St Johnstone.
“The support has been unbelievable. I’ve run out of words to use for our fans,” continued Locke. “I can’t praise them highly enough. They stuck by the team on Sunday and that’s the type of backing we’re going to need all season.
“If it wasn’t for these supporters, we wouldn’t be standing here. They have a huge part to play and we have to do more in the final third of the pitch to give them something to get excited about. That was the disappointment for me yesterday.”