St Johnstone look to dent Gary Locke’s job chances

St JOHNSTONE manager Tommy Wright believes Gary Locke’s second chance to manage in the Scottish 
Premiership is richly deserved.

Mark O'Hara: High praise for Locke. Picture: SNS

But the Saints boss is aiming to deliver a crushing blow to Locke’s hopes of leading Kilmarnock into the top six and thus persuading the Killie board to hand him the manager’s role on a permanent basis beyond the summer.

St Johnstone can move seven points clear of eighth-placed Killie today if they win at McDiarmid Park. Kilmarnock are unbeaten in three games since Locke replaced Allan Johnston and got another chance to lead a team in the Premiership following his controversial exit from Hearts.

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Wright said: “I think most people in the game would think Gary was very unlucky with the situation that happened at Hearts but he has been in the game long enough to know that things like that can happen. It’s not always the good guys get the right decisions.

Mark O'Hara: High praise for Locke. Picture: SNS

“He is someone I have got on really well with since I came to Scotland. And he is doing a good job under difficult circumstances because they have a few injuries and taking over from Allan as well was probably something he had to give some thought.

“But I’m sure he is in there trying to fight to do as well as he can for Kilmarnock and hopefully get the job as well. They will be looking at it as a chance to close on us and we will be looking at it as a chance to get away from them and close on the team above us. Both teams will be going out for a win.”

Kilmarnock defender Mark O’Hara says the upturn in their results has come about because of the changes Locke has put in place and would not be surprised to see him land the job full-time.

“Since the gaffer has taken over, he’s focused a lot on our shape and we’ve put in a lot of hard work,” he said. “The tempo of our training sessions has been higher and there is a good atmosphere about the place.

“Guys like Chris Johnston and Tope Obadeyi have been told to go out and express themselves as well. They are not scared to make mistakes.

“The manager is a good guy and the place feels brighter. He knows it’s in his hands to get the job. If the players do well he will keep it.”