Gary Locke today ordered his players not to focus solely on Kris Boyd when Kilmarnock visit Tynecastle tomorrow.
The Hearts manager advised that concentrating too much on Boyd, who has six goals in three games against the Edinburgh club this season, would leave Michael Gardyne, Chris Johnston and others free to inflict further damage.
Kilmarnock have dominated Hearts in all three fixtures this season, winning 2-0, 4-0 and 4-2. Locke acknowledged that Boyd, pictured, has been the principal difference in those matches but is concerned about placing too much emphasis on one player tomorrow.
“In the games we’ve played against Kilmarnock this season, Boyd has been the difference,” Locke told the Evening News. “That’s not being disrespectful to the rest of the Kilmarnock team because they have some good players. Boyd can’t win the game on his own. He’s got players who have created a lot of chances for him in the games and we all know he can take them.
“It’s a big test when you’re playing against the best players. Boyd comes into that bracket. He was on the shortlist for the Player of the Year, which shows you the season he’s had. We will need to be on our toes because they’ve got Michael Gardyne and wee Chris Johnston who have caused us problems in the three games this season.
“We haven’t beaten Kilmarnock this season. That in itself tells you how difficult this game is going to be. We will need to carry our recent good form into this game if we’re going to get anything out of it.”
Hearts have Jamie Hamill available after a one-match ban precluded him from last week’s Edinburgh derby. Jamie Walker is pushing to start the match but Locke is expected to keep his team similar to that which beat Hibs. Midfielder Callum Tapping and goalkeeper Jack Hamilton are out through injury.