GARY LOCKE has pledged to fight on as Hearts manager regardless of the club’s fate, recalling his own battles with injury as proof of his character and stressing he will not be derailed from his ambitions to guide the Tynecastle club into next season.
Hearts’ future is uncertain after its parent company, Ukio Bankas Investment Group (UBIG), declared themselves insolvent in Lithuania on Thursday. The Scottish Premier League (SPL) must decide whether to punish Locke and his players with a points deduction – and possible relegation from the top flight – if they feel Hearts have suffered an “insolvency event”. Lawyers have been consulted by both parties, with SPL officials due to discuss the matter at a board meeting on Monday.
Locke has insisted he will continue even if his club are forced into administration, having only been appointed manager permanently in March. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s not something I worry about too much,” the 37-year-old said. “It was the same when Rangers had all their problems. There were stories week in and week out about what was going to happen there. It’s the same here. If you let it affect you, it affects you in your job. I’m certainly not going to let anything affect me off the pitch. I’ve got enough to concentrate on.
“Being the Hearts manager is a magnificent job but it’s a difficult job because there’s so much to deal with. I’ve got enough to be getting on with. Everybody who knows me knows I’ve always been a battler. I try not to let anything worry me too much, even the injuries I had in my career. They were devastating at the time but, if you crumble, you’ll never come back. I was always really determined as a player and I’m determined as a manager now to try and get this football club back where it belongs.”
Locke revealed he is willing to give captain Marius Zaliukas a farewell outing at Pittodrie this afternoon, depending on how the game is going. The Lithuanian has been recovering from torn ankle ligaments since February but wants to play for even a few minutes before his contract expires.
“He’s enthusiastic about trying to play but he’s only been back a week and hasn’t had any game time for the under-20s or anything,” explained Locke. “He’s certainly a player that I feel, due to numbers this weekend, may possibly be involved. It would be nice.
“I think he does see his future elsewhere. He’s been a great servant and I think the least he deserves is to possibly be involved. It depends how the game goes because, first and foremost, we’re going out to win the game. As much as it’s a sentimental thing for Marius, for me it’s important to get three points and finish the season on a high.”