HEARTS manager Gary Locke has implored his players to do more to ensure fans keep the faith this season – starting with improving their defending. Locke was unhappy at the level of resolve shown against St Johnstone last week and is seeking to address the issue before Saturday’s trip to Aberdeen.
Supporters have shown commendable togetherness since Hearts went into administration in June and Locke is keen for them to stay behind his team. In return, he wants more rigid defending in line with that which helped secure a 1-0 win at Easter Road in the Scottish League Cup quarter-final last midweek.
“The fans have been great and they keep trying to encourage the players, but we’ve got to do more on the pitch,” said Locke. “We’ve got to do more to keep the fans on side. The start of the second half last week wasn’t acceptable.
“If we defended like we did at Easter Road, we wouldn’t have a problem. We’ve got to be at it in every single minute of every single game. With young lads, they do have lapses in concentration. To give ourselves a chance, we have to defend like we did against Hibs. We work on defending every day and we work hard with the back four. We work on getting into good areas and stopping crosses coming in. We had four or five chances to clear the ball before St Johnstone’s second goal last week and we didn’t clear it. There’s not a lot you can do on the training ground about that. It’s about making the right decisions.”
Locke also stressed that his players need to show more defiance when they fall behind in games. “It’s not the end of the world if you go a goal down,” he continued. “You have time to get back into the game and that was the disappointing thing last week. We do let the heads drop too easily. We’ve got to show more about us than that. We can’t let the heads go down just because we lose a goal.”
Meanwhile, Hearts have three players in the Scotland Under-21 squad for next week’s European Championship qualifier with Georgia. Kevin McHattie, Jordan McGhee and Callum Paterson were named in Billy Stark’s group, along with Danny Handling of Hibs.
The game takes place at St Mirren Park on Thursday, November 14, kick-off, 7.30pm.