Gary Locke believes he has cured Hearts’ back ache

Billy Brown and Gary Locke
Billy Brown and Gary Locke
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GARY LOCKE believes he has cured Hearts’ defensive ills by reverting to the back four which started the season.

Dylan McGowan, Brad McKay, Danny Wilson and Kevin McHattie are certain to line up against Hibs in the New Year Edinburgh derby having impressed in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at St Mirren.

Hearts had conceded 19 goals in five games before arriving in Paisley but showed much more defensive resolve, Steven Thompson’s early goal being the obvious exception. That has given manager Locke plenty encouragement ahead of the trip to Easter Road. Hibs carry more danger from set-pieces under new manager Terry Butcher and Hearts will be required to be well organised in defence.

“I thought the defence looked better against St Mirren because we have looked a little bit vulnerable at the back,” Locke told the Evening News. “Earlier in the season, that was the back four we played and we got two or three clean sheets. We’ve worked hard on the training ground and these boys are playing all the time and gaining experience.

“We can’t then keep making excuses that we’re a young side. We’ve got to learn from the mistakes we’re making and I thought we defended well on Sunday.

“It’s a much happier dressing-room because we’ve stopped the rot we were on. We are back creating chances again at the other end of the pitch, which is pleasing because there’s no doubt in the previous few games we didn’t look enough of a threat. Sunday was more like us and now we want to take that performance into Thursday.”