HEARTS manager Gary Locke will not approach the SPFL to ask for emergency loans because he believes there is no point.
The Edinburgh club’s injury problems saw only five substitutes named at Celtic Park at the weekend but Locke expects no sympathy from league officials whilst his club is in administration.
SPFL rules state clubs in administration cannot register any new players. However, Hearts’ threadbare squad is currently stretched to breaking point through injuries. Locke has so far resisted any temptation to throw first-year professionals like Angus Beith and Liam Smith into the high-octane Scottish Premiership in order to protect them.
Hearts are concerned about their ability to field a team should their injury situation worsen or a raft of suspensions kick in. Ryan Stevenson, Jason Holt, Mark Ridgers, Gary Oliver and Scott Robinson are all sidelined, with only Robinson having a small chance of being fit to face Kilmarnock at home on Boxing Day.
Locke stressed there is nothing to be gained from asking the SPFL for special dispensation to bring new players in. “We’ve tried everything. I’m not going to have a go at anyone,” he said. “The SPFL are aware of our situation so I don’t feel there’s any need for us to go to them. They know what’s happening. If it comes to the point where I can’t field 11 players, then they’ve got a problem as well.
“I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. Obviously we’ve got four or five injuries at the moment, although Holt is a bit longer term.
Hopefully we can get a couple of players back in the next couple of weeks to strengthen the squad. It’s important we keep everybody fit with the games we have coming up.
“I know what will happen [if we do go to the SPFL]. They’ll just say you’ve got to pick the younger boys I had with the squad at the weekend [who weren’t stripped]. If we’ve got to do that, we’ve got to do it. From my point of view, I’ve got to try and protect these players. We’re trying to develop them into really good players. It would be wrong to throw these boys into the first team at the moment because they’re simply not ready for it.”
Locke added that the SPFL are applying their rules and that Hearts have no choice but to accept their fate.
“There are people now who are trying to move the club in the right direction. I think the main aim for us is to try and get out of administration. That’s the biggest fight we’ve got,” he said.
“The fact we can put a team on the pitch is great for everyone. What’s gone on in the past certainly hasn’t helped but I don’t think that’s a big factor. The rules are the rules, we’ve no-one to blame bar ourselves. If we have enough signed players here then obviously we’ll have to strip them. I just hope I don’t have to do that because, at the moment, these players aren’t ready.”