GARY LOCKE today demanded the Hearts players be ready for the biggest week of their season with an Edinburgh derby and the Scottish Communities League Cup final inside seven days.
The interim manager wants a win over Hibs at Easter Road to build momentum ahead of the cup final and has stressed to the squad the importance of the week ahead.
Hearts have yet to beat Hibs this season after three meetings and Locke is determined to secure a win whilst in temporary charge. There remains a possibility of a new manager being appointed before Sunday, but Locke is focused on preparing the players as best he can.
“This is the biggest week of our season, 100 per cent. I’ve said that to the players,” Locke told the Evening News. “We had been on a bad run, we got a victory on Tuesday against St Johnstone, and now the derby is a huge game. Everyone knows how much this means for the club and Hibs will feel the same. We have two massive games coming up and hopefully we can win.
“The derbies have been really close this season. It’s not nice when you go a season and don’t beat your rivals but that hasn’t happened to us often. It’s important we try to get a victory on Sunday. Not just because it’s a derby but because it would set us up nicely for the cup final.
“We all know the importance of the game. It would be a great one to win for the fans but the main thing for me is we start picking up points to get away from the bottom end of the table. If we do have any ambitions of reaching the top six, we need to win our last three league games to give ourselves a chance. If we don’t, we’re going to end up in the bottom six. Everybody is always happier when you’re winning and I said that in the dressing-room on Tuesday night. That was a better feeling than quarter to five last Saturday when we lost to Motherwell but it’s only one game and they can’t get too carried away. I think we’re as ready as we’ll ever be for what lies ahead.”