GARY LOCKE could call on teenager Gary Oliver as a surprise package in tomorrow’s Edinburgh derby after watching the striker learn from the legendary John Robertson.
Although the 18-year-old is unlikely to start against Hibs at Tynecastle, Locke was impressed by his double in Wednesday’s under-20 match and said he will not hesitate to use the player as a substitute if Hearts find themselves needing a goal in the derby.
Dale Carrick’s injured knee has rendered him doubtful, leaving Oliver third in line for the striking berths behind Ryan Stevenson and Callum Paterson. Robertson has been coaching Hearts’ forward once a week without pay since last month and manager Locke is pleased with how Oliver has benefited. He watched the youngster produce two predatory finishes against Partick Thistle Under-20s in midweek and admitted he will soon come into contention for a start if he maintains his form.
Oliver scored for Hearts’ first team in the 5-0 pre-season friendly win over Raith Rovers. Due to his slender build and lack of experience, he has yet to play competitively for the club. Locke said that could change tomorrow if Hearts need a goal against their Edinburgh rivals.
“I watched the game during the week and saw the two goals,” said Locke. “Gary was doing the things I’ve seen Robbo showing him on the training pitch, so that’s a huge plus. Having Robbo about the place has been great for all of us.
“Gary has been great to work with. We aren’t blessed with loads of centre-forwards and he did well during the week. I’m hoping that working with Robbo will bring him on. His two finishes on Wednesday were that working with Robbo will bring him on. His two finishes on Wednesday were first class. He’s in the squad for tomorrow and, if he keeps scoring goals, he’ll be in my thoughts for starting a game.
“One thing about him is he’s got a goal in him. My worry with him at the moment is just physical. He has a good touch on him and good movement. I wouldn’t put him on the bench if I didn’t think he could go on and do something. He’s certainly in my thoughts for tomorrow.”
Hibs travel to Tynecastle with pressure increasing on manager Pat Fenlon after three successive defeats without a goal both at home and in Europe. However, Locke feels it is unfair to criticise the Easter Road club so early in the campaign.
“We’re one game into the season and to be putting so much pressure on them is silly, for me. I don’t concentrate on that too much, all I think about is Hearts.
“Derbies all over the world are the same – 100 miles an hour with everybody right up for it. That’s what I expect tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Angelo Massone’s deadline for completing due diligence on Hearts’ finances passed last night. The Evening News can confirm that the Italian’s company, Five Stars Football Limited, has not provided the club’s administrators, BDO, with proof of funding for their £4 million offer.
BDO will now demand that the Italian declares who his investors are or they will dismiss him completely from the bidding process. Massone yesterday appealed to Foundation of Hearts, the only other bidder, to join forces and work together to gain control of the Edinburgh club. However, his proposal was rejected.