GARY LOCKE today warned Hearts against the danger of former team-mates who could destroy their League Cup ambitions at Stark’s Park this evening. Raith Rovers, as well as being managed by former Tynecastle defender Grant Murray, have Jason Thomson, Calum Elliot, Liam Fox and Gordon Smith all with a Hearts background.
Locke is concerned about the potential for an upset in Kirkcaldy and has little scope within his small squad to rest players following Saturday’s 2-1 win over Aberdeen. He is also aware of the motivation which will exist within those who previously played in maroon, with a place in the third round of the League Cup at stake.
“Like any player playing against your old club, you do give it everything. I’ve experienced it myself,” said the Hearts manager, who has Brad McKay fit to play and both Kevin McHattie and Danny Wilson available. “I’m under no illusions how difficult a task this is going to be. Raith have a good side. I’ve watched them three or four times and there are a lot of good experienced players. Everybody knows the size of our squad. You can’t go and make wholesale changes and put young players in just for the sake of it. We need to go there and be competitive. I’m not going to have scope to change it too much. One or two boys who have been on the bench will probably remain on the bench and might get a run at some point. In the main, it will be the same boys as Saturday.”
Hearts beat Raith 5-0 at Stark’s Park during pre-season but Locke stressed that will have no bearing tonight. “This will be a completely different game to the pre-season game. Everything clicked for us in front of goal that night but it could easily have been 3-3 at half-time.”
Meanwhile, Wilson has received a one-match ban for using foul and abusive language towards Aberdeen officials at the end of Saturday’s match. He is available tonight but will miss the weekend trip to Inverness. Hearts have also submitted an appeal against McHattie’s ordering off and must wait for a response from the Scottish Football Association. Assistant manager Billy Brown, meanwhile, has been issued with notices of complaint by the SFA over his altercation with Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes. He has until Monday to respond to charges of misconduct and “adopting an aggressive attitude”.