JAMIE MacDonald aims to repay Gary Locke for his faith by helping the Kilmarnock manager succeed with the first team he has been able to mould himself.
Locke took over at Hearts after the winter transfer window ended in 2013 and was soon restricted by a transfer embargo when the club went into administration. After losing his job just as Hearts were set to come out of administration, he took over at Kilmarnock in February days after the transfer window ended.
This is the fourth season he has been in charge of a club but the first time he will be able to call a team his own, and he quickly brought in MacDonald in June.
MacDonald, who aims to make his debut in the Ladbrokes Premiership opener against Dundee at Rugby Park, said: “I enjoyed working under the gaffer last time at Hearts and I’m looking forward to doing that again.
“The situations he has been put in before, he has had his hands tied.
“This is his first season where he has been able to bring his own players in and do his own things from the start of a season.
“It’s half the battle if you have a manager you want to play for. It’s the case for a lot of the boys here, he has put a lot of faith in us, and we want to have a good season for him especially.
“When I spoke to him he had a desire to bring me here and it’s good to be wanted.”
MacDonald was told he was surplus to requirements at Hearts on the same day as Locke but went on to enjoy a successful season at Falkirk which culminated in a William Hill Scottish Cup final appearance. But he is keen to sample top-flight football again.
“Last year at Falkirk was great, it’s a great club and I thoroughly enjoyed my year there,” the 29-year-old said.
“It was a good league to play in with Hearts, Hibs and Rangers in there but I didn’t want to stay down there for too long because sometimes you can get lost down there.
“It was a good opportunity to come back and play in the Premiership and I’m really looking forward to playing in it this season.”
MacDonald will first have to oust Craig Samson as two experienced goalkeepers challenge for the jersey.
“In football, the best thing for you is competition,” he said. “You drive each other on to do as best as you can.
“Whoever gets the nod, fair play to them, and it will be up to the one that’s not playing to try to dislodge them. For the one who is in goals you have to make sure your performances are top notch.
“We just have to wait for Saturday to see what happens. Hopefully I have done enough to earn that right.”