GARY LOCKE revealed today that his Hearts future is uncertain with his contract expiring in just three months.
The first-team coach wants to remain at Tynecastle long-term as part of any new management team. However, he has no idea whether he will be involved next season. Locke is currently working as interim manager alongside Darren Murray following John McGlynn’s exit last week. He will prepare the players for Sunday’s derby at Hibs and stressed that the welfare of the team remains a bigger priority than his own situation. Nonetheless, he admitted his future is a concern with his contract up at the end of the season.
Senior officials at Tynecastle are speaking to potential candidates for the manager’s job, with John Robertson, Peter Houston and Derek McInnes amongst the names on their shortlist. Locke said he has not been told whether he will have a role within any new regime.
“I’ve not been given any guarantees,” he told the Evening News. “I still see myself as the first-team coach here, but I’m not looking too far ahead.
“I’m in charge of the team at the moment. If they bring another manager in then, obviously, I’d be looking to be involved. But who knows?
“It’s obviously a concern. My contract is up in the summer and we’ve just lost the manager. It is a concern for me, but the most important thing right now is that Hearts are winning. My future will take care of itself.
“Everybody knows what the club means to me. I love coming into work every day. I love working with the players. But I’d certainly love it a lot more if we were winning.
“There’s nobody more disappointed and angry than myself at the minute because we’re near the bottom of the league and we aren’t winning enough games. It’s important we try to put that right.”
Hearts expect to be without defender Dylan McGowan for two to three weeks due to ankle injury sustained by the Australian against Motherwell last weekend. “Dylan turned his ankle on Saturday and it swelled up pretty badly, so it looks like a couple of weeks out for him,” explained Locke. “That’s disappointing for him because he just go back into the team. Him being out gives an opportunity for somebody else.”
Scott Robinson has undergone surgery on his knee and is unlikely to play again this season. “Scott had a knee problem from the derby game,” said Locke. “He had been trying to play through it to his credit, but the knee keeps swelling up.
“It’s important he gets that right and gets himself ready for next season now. I think it’s just a bit of a clean-up operation, but he does need to get it done.”
Fraser Mullen returned at right-back in place of McGowan for Tuesday’s 2-0 win over St Johnstone. He will continue there against Hibs, with Locke stressing the importance of the experience gained by Hearts’ young players this season.
“We’ve had to deal with a lot of things this season. We’ve lost a lot of players and we’ve brought through a lot of young players. Unfortunately, you’ve got to expect indifferent performances and that has been the case at times.
“The good thing from my point of view is that all these youngsters are getting this experience of playing in the first team and they’re only going to get better for it. Maybe at other clubs you wouldn’t get that.
“If you come to Hearts and you’re a good young player, you’re going to get your chance.
“Next season these players will push on again and hopefully we’ll be in a far better position that we are at the moment.”