Former Hearts manager Jim Jefferies believes Gary Locke has a golden opportunity to land his dream job after serving a Tynecastle apprenticeship.
Locke was handed his first- ever coaching role by the veteran boss at Kilmarnock before the pair were reunited at the capital club in 2010.
The 37-year-old has been an ever-present figure since then, acting as first-team coach under Jefferies, Scottish Cup winning gaffer Paulo Sergio and the outgoing John McGlynn.
Locke has now been placed in interim charge at the club, alongside head of youth development Darren Murray, and Jefferies has backed his protege to impress. “He could be ready for the step up,” insisted Jefferies. “He spent a fair time with Billy [Brown] and I, and learned a different style of management under Paulo Sergio. From there he has helped John McGlynn and perhaps he thinks: ‘Why not?’ The timing could be right for him and I’m sure he would not let anyone down.
“I’m not being disrespectful, and I am sure Gary would agree, when I say his chances are improved by the financial situation at the club.
“He is not on a fortune at the club and Hearts could potentially have a great option for relatively little money. There would be no issues of huge wages or compensation packages.” The 62-year-old believes Locke must remain at the club, even if the Tynecastle hierarchy ultimately decide to appoint a more experienced figure.
“It is all down to whether Gary thinks he’s ready for a massive job like this,” added Jefferies. “Only he can tell whether he is ready. Regardless of whether he takes the top job, you have got to keep him on. He is steeped in Hearts, a great coach and terrific with the players.”
Hearts are currently on the lookout for their 12th boss of the Vladimir Romanov regime following the dismissal of McGlynn. As manager number nine on that list, Jefferies is all too aware of Romanov’s itchy trigger-finger.
“It is another one to add to the list,” he said. “I know John is not daft, he has taken the risk involved with that job knowing exactly how the owner operates.”