Gary Locke sticks with normal Hearts training

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HEARTS caretaker manager Gary Locke is aiming to keep preparations for the Scottish Communities League Cup final “as low-key as possible”.

Locke lifted the Scottish Cup for Hearts in 1998 and was first-team coach when they repeated the feat last season, and he feels the best way to approach the Hampden clash with St Mirren is to prepare as normal.

Hearts trained indoors at their Riccarton complex yesterday, following heavy snowfall, and Locke remains in control ahead of the final, despite the club opening talks with Peter Houston late last week.

Locke told Hearts TV: “It will be the same type of preparation as the cup final last year – low-key, training as normal, and get the boys lively and bubbly.

“We will train as normal all week and towards the end of the week we will look to get things organised in terms of the team.”

Locke has led Hearts to victory over St Johnstone and a draw with Hibernian ahead of the final. He said: “The morale is good. The boys are looking quite bubbly and lively in the mornings, which is great. We had a wee day at the go-karting on Monday, which was interesting to say the least. It was good just doing something different away from the training ground. We are now focusing on the final and aiming to win it, and we will prepare as well as we can.”

Locke revealed that right-back Fraser Mullen had received a bad ankle injury at Easter Road on Sunday but would not rule him out for Hampden yet.

One player who has no chance, however, is midfielder Scott Robinson, who underwent knee surgery yesterday to repair a torn cartilage.

Robinson said: “The surgeon said it went really well. He said it was a bigger tear than he first thought, so my recovery time will need to be a bit longer and I will need to take my time. I know my season is over now so it’s just a case of getting ready for pre-season.”

Robinson admitted he was “gutted” to miss the final, especially after realising his semi-final red card would spark an immediate two-match suspension rather than a final ban.

“I thought, getting sent off in the semi-final, I was missing it and then it was a bonus I was making it. Then tearing this, it maybe just wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully the boys get the result on Sunday.”