Gary Locke challenges squad to play for new deals

Kilmarnock manager Gary Locke talks to the media ahead of his side's upcoming clash with Hamilton. Picture: SNS
Kilmarnock manager Gary Locke talks to the media ahead of his side's upcoming clash with Hamilton. Picture: SNS
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KILMARNOCK boss Gary Locke has told his out-of-contract players there is still time to prove they have a future at Rugby Park.

Saturday’s 4-1 thrashing by Scottish Premiership basement boys St Mirren was the fifth straight defeat for Locke’s team.

We have four games left and the boys have got to prove to me they are good enough to stay here

Gary Locke

It was not the response the former Hearts manager was looking for after previously urging the 10 members of his squad whose deals expire this summer to prove to him that they want to extend their Ayrshire stints.

However, the manager says he is willing to give his players another chance, especially as victory at home to Hamilton on Saturday will mean they stretch their top-flight run into a 23rd year.

He said: “I’ve been relatively pleased with performances but obviously I’ve not been happy with the way results have been going.

“We’ve had a couple of tough games with Aberdeen and Celtic but the others would certainly be ones I’d expect us to win.

“That’s why we haven’t got ourselves into the right position. We’re not in a bad position but we’re not in the one we want to be.

“We have four games left and the boys have got to prove to me they are good enough to stay here.

“They have to step it up from last week but since I’ve taken over the performances have been pretty good, so I’m not going to let one game change my whole opinion of players.

“It’s important we remember the boys have done reasonable well but last week was a game we want to forget. A day when everything went wrong.

“But their futures will not be decided by how they did in one match. The good thing about football is that you always have the next match to put things right and I fully expect a far better performance against Accies.”

Locke has been linked with moves for his former Tynecastle men Jamie MacDonald and Scott Robinson.

But the Killie boss wants to extinguish his lingering fears over the relegation play-offs before he starts planning for next season.

“There’s nothing to report at the minute,” he said. “The speculation is incredible at the moment. It always the same at this time of the year with agents trying to get their players tied up.

“But we still need to get a result to make sure we stay in the top flight and the sooner we do that, the sooner I start making plans.

“There’s a couple of players I would like to bring to the club but with our finances, I won’t be able to make wholesale changes as we still have guys under contract.

“So it won’t be until the summer that I can get things moving.”