Vladimir Romanov to make rare visit for League Cup

HEARTS owner Vladimir Romanov will make a rare visit to Scotland to attend tomorrow’s League Cup final, according to the Tynecastle club.

The businessman, who has been trying to sell Hearts since late 2011, has seen his team win the two previous finals he has been at – the 2006 and 2012 Scottish Cups.

Romanov brought a substantial entourage with him for the first final, including some former crew-mates from his days as a Soviet submariner. This time, with Ukio Bankas having gone into administration and the rest of his business empire in financial difficulty, he is expected to travel more modestly.

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If Romanov does turn up for the match between his club and St Mirren, it will be the first Hearts match he has seen live since the Europa League ties with Liverpool last Autumn.

While in Scotland, Romanov could be asked to rubber-stamp the appointment of the next Hearts manager, with former Dundee United boss Peter Houston still expected to take up the post next week.

If that does happen, tomorrow’s match will be Gary Locke’s last as interim coach.

The 37-year-old was Hearts captain when they won the Scottish Cup in 1998, but injury denied him the chance to lead his team in the final against Rangers. Tomorrow Locke will at least get the chance to lead his team out.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed about as a kid,” Locke said. “To play for Hearts was a dream come true, but to lead the team out in a national cup final will be a proud day for myself and my family. But it will only be a good day if we manage to win.”

St Mirren manager Danny Lennon yesterday completed the signing of Estonian winger Sander Puri.

The 24-year-old, who has 47 caps, has signed until the end of the season, with the club having the option to extend his contract for a year.

Puri is eligible for the match, but with only five substitutes allowed it remains to be seen if Lennon will deem his inclusion in the 16 to be too great a risk. He has trained all week with St Mirren, having previously been on trial with Kilmarnock after leaving Finnish club KuPS.