GARY LOCKE will have a major say in who replaces Darren Murray as Hearts’ under-20 coach, however the manager warned today that the new coach will have massive responsibility for the club’s long-term future.
Locke would not be drawn on specific names who may be in the frame as he expects a flurry of interest in the role Murray is vacating to become under-18 coach at Coventry City. Despite being in administration, Hearts have scope to appoint a successor because the role is seen as vital.
Murray has helped many youngsters graduate from the Riccarton youth academy to the senior squad and Locke is eager to recruit someone he can continue working closely with. He stressed that Hearts’ future will continue to centre around producing their own players, therefore whoever is under-20 coach has a pivotal role to play.
“I’ll be looking to have an input into who comes in,” he told the Evening News. “The under-20s is obviously the team directly below the first team, so whoever comes in I’m going to have to work really closely with.
“It’s a position that needs to be filled and it’s a really important position when you look at Hearts’ history of bringing through young players. It’s a huge job so it’s important we put the right person in place.
“We’re just waiting at the moment. I’d imagine there will be a lot of people interested in coming to work for Hearts. Even with the situation we find ourselves in off the pitch, I still think there will be a lot of candidates to replace Darren.
“We’ll probably sit down in the next week or so and have a look at everybody who is interested.
“It has to be somebody that’s right and who ticks all the boxes. That person has a huge job on their hands. With the way Hearts is at the minute, the future of the club is certainly through the younger players.”
Locke admitted he could not stand in Murray’s way when the 43-year-old declared he wanted to head to England. “You can’t blame him for going,” continued Locke. “In England, there’s a lot more finance goes into the game down there, certainly in the academies. I know from speaking to him it’s something he’s really looking forward to.
“It’s a great opportunity for him. He said he wanted to try and further himself in terms of his coaching and I certainly wasn’t going to stand in his way.
“He’s been a fantastic servant for Hearts for about 15 years and he’s been heavily involved bringing through a lot of talented players. I hope he goes and does really well.
“Due to circumstances, a lot of the youngsters are in the team at the minute. He’s been involved in bringing through some very good players over the years so he’s definitely going to be difficult to replace.”