MacDonald’s still my No.1, says Locke

Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald. Pic Ian Rutherford
Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald. Pic Ian Rutherford
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GARY LOCKE has welcomed Craig Gordon to Riccarton for training but stressed that Jamie MacDonald remains Hearts’ first-choice goalkeeper.

Gordon arrived at his formative club yesterday morning to begin a week-long training stint and Locke is keen to reaffirm MacDonald’s status as No.1.

Gordon had been training at Rangers recently but, with their season ended, asked to continue his recuperation from two years of injury hell with Hearts. Locke was only too happy to allow the 31-year-old to join his squad. However, he said no-one should assume MacDonald’s place is under threat.

Hearts players and fans voted MacDonald their player of the year last weekend following an outstanding season in goal. Locke reiterated his hope that the 28-year-old will agree a new contract to remain at Tynecastle.

“Jamie has been out of this world. You can see that with the number of awards he’s been getting recently. Jamie is the No.1 goalkeeper at Hearts and I just hope we can hold on to him,” Locke told the Evening News.

“His contract is up but hopefully he is one of the players we can sit down with in the next couple of weeks to get things sorted out.

“Jamie and Craig are very friendly so that’s us got four top goalkeepers training this week. Craig is a top-class goalkeeper who has had a horrific time with injuries. He’s come in to do a bit of training with us, which is great to see. He’s a big Hearts supporter as well so he’ll train with us for the next week and then our season is finished. I think he wants to train as much as he can having had such a long time out. Without a doubt, he will be a good keeper for someone. We’re only too happy to help so we’ll get a wee look at him over the next week.”

Gordon intends to make his return from injury by joining a new club over the summer. He last played competitively more than two years ago for Sunderland in a 2-2 draw with Bolton in April 2012.

Hearts face Partick Thistle at Tynecastle tonight in their penultimate game of the season. Locke admitted that making changes to the team would be difficult after Sunday’s 5-0 win over Kilmarnock. That would mean leaving the experienced Jamie Hamill on the substitutes’ bench for the second successive game.

“It would be very hard to change it. The players were fantastic at the weekend,” said Locke “That’s the type of performance that we feel the supporters deserve. I looked at the Hibs game and I didn’t feel we played particularly well but we battled well. Looking at the team from that day, it would have been harsh to leave anybody out.

“Jamie Hamill ended up getting himself suspended for that game and the team did well. Like anyone else, if the team does well when you’re out, then you have to work hard to get back in.”