ANY Hearts players earning needless bookings this season will be fined heavily by manager Gary Locke as he strives to cut down on unnecessary suspensions within his threadbare squad.
Administration leaves the Edinburgh club Hearts unable to sign players and with a senior squad dominated by young academy graduates. While injuries are unavoidable, Locke will not tolerate players ending up banned because of silly yellow cards.
He has already stressed the need to avoid cautions for pointless things like dissent and kicking the ball away. Anyone caught out committing such offences will be hammered as per the Hearts code of conduct.
“I had to nail that early in the season, 100 per cent,” Locke told the Evening News today. “It’s not something I can afford to tolerate and the players know that. We’re all sensible enough to realise we haven’t got the biggest of squads. Stupid bookings like kicking the ball away and talking back to ref, we will have to crack down on that heavily.
“If there is a tackle to be made, they can’t pull out, they have to go and make challenges and if players get booked for that then so be it. The most important thing is that they aren’t picking up silly bookings. They’ll be hit in the pocket for that.
“We all knew the position we were in before the season started. If they pick up a needless booking, they will be fined. It’s not a punishment, we just can’t afford any stupid suspensions because of the situation we’re in.”
Jamie Hamill and Kevin McHattie have both been booked twice in Hearts’ opening three Scottish Premiership matches. Danny Wilson, Scott Robinson and Callum Paterson have each been yellow carded once.
Scottish Football Association disciplinary rules mean players are automatically banned for one match once they accumulate six bookings.