DCSIMG

Gary Locke to keep faith in Hearts’ front pairing

Gary Locke. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Gary Locke. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by BARRY ANDERSON
 

HEARTS interim manager Gary Locke will keep faith with Michael Ngoo and John Sutton against St Johnstone tomorrow night to further develop their attacking partnership. The pair started together in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Motherwell and Locke suggested he will continue with the 4-4-2 formation he deployed.

The 37-year-old assumed charge of the first team after being appointed interim manager alongside Darren Murray on Thursday. They took the reins from John McGlynn, whose 4-3-3 system brought heavy criticism from supporters. Locke told the Evening News he would not hesitate to use 4-3-3, but for now he seems certain to stick with Ngoo and Sutton up front in a 4-4-2.

Hearts fell 2-0 behind inside ten minutes on Saturday but rallied with an impressive second-half display. Locke wants the players to pick up where they left off when they face St Johnstone.

“I’m not against playing 4-3-3, but I thought on Saturday Michael and Sutty looked as if they could maybe form a partnership up there. We’ll see how we go on Tuesday night,” 
explained Locke. “I thought in the second half John did really well. He held the ball in, won headers and scored a good goal. We’re looking for more of that from John.

“We had Motherwell on the back foot and put them under pressure in the second half, which is what we should be doing. The pitch wasn’t conducive to getting the ball down and playing like we have been. We stressed to them at half-time to get the ball forward a bit quicker and for Michael and John to cause problems, which they did.

“I think we’ve got to be positive, especially at Tynecastle with the players we’ve got. I think we’ve been positive all season to be honest, but some people perceive the 4-3-3 system as negative. If you have two wide men attacking and a striker attacking then it’s pretty positive.”

Locke, said he would be working on tightening up the Hearts defence in training, for he was less than pleased with the manner in which Motherwell scored their two goals. “That’s been the

story of things recently, we don’t really give ourselves a chance in games because we always seem to go a goal behind,” he continued.

“To go two goals behind so early was a real disappointment. Credit to the players, they showed a lot of character to bounce back having had a few knocks over the last few days. I thought the second half was much more like what the fans want to see. We can’t lose sloppy goals like that. The players knew Nicky Law makes runs from midfield and they didn’t pick him up so that was a bit disappointing. If you look at the defence from the start of the season, we’ve lost three of the four in Marius Zaliukas, Danny Grainger and Ryan McGowan. Defensively we looked really solid during the first three or

four months of the season, but there have been a lot of changes.

“A lot of young players have come in, so you’re going to get indifferent performances. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, though. We need to try and turn it around. I thought we might have got a result on Saturday, we haven’t, so hopefully we can do it on Tuesday.”

Meanwhile, Hearts revealed that more than 50 applications have arrived at Tynecastle for the vacant manager’s job since McGlynn left on Thursday. Coaches from across the UK and Europe have submitted CVs and club officials are now beginning discussions with

potential candidates.

“We’re delighted to receive so many applications in such a short period of time,” said a Hearts spokesperson. “The manager’s job here is a big attraction and is proving to be very desirable on a large scale. The club has now started the filtering process with a view to having discussions with potential candidates in the coming days.”

 

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