sport

Locke rules out resting players

Hearts coach Gary Locke insists there is no chance of the Jambos resting players for Saturday's SPL clash with Dunfermline at East End Park.

The Jambos face Celtic in next week's Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden and some fans' websites have discussed the possibility of saving legs for the trip to Glasgow.

However, Locke is adamant the quest to improve on sixth place, where Hearts lie four points behind Dundee United and St Johnstone, is the Gorgie club's first priority.

"I wouldn't read those websites because it certainly isn't the truth," he said.

"We will be putting out the strongest team that we possibly can, as we do every week.

"It is a big game for Dunfermline but it is also a big game for us.

"I am not saying the cup's not a big thing for us but we have to finish as high up the table as we can.

"We have our own agenda, we are looking to catch St Johnstone and Dundee United who are above us and if we beat Dunfermline it would go a long way to doing that.

"All the backroom staff are focused on is this game.

"Maybe one or two players might have one eye on the semi-final but I'm hoping that's not the case and they are all focused on Saturday's game.

"Hearts fans will go through there in huge numbers and it's important that we try to get a victory for them, and then on Sunday all we will be thinking about is Celtic in the cup."

Locke looks forward to coming up against mentor Jim Jefferies, the man he still calls gaffer.

Locke played under Jefferies at Hearts, Bradford and Kilmarnock, where he was handed his first coaching position under his mentor.

The former Hearts skipper joined Jefferies as first team coach when he returned to manage Hearts for a second time in January 2010.

However, Locke stayed on in Gorgie when the veteran boss and his assistant Billy Brown departed at the beginning of the season, to be replaced by Paulo Sergio, but finds old habits hard to break.

He said: "You see that with Ally McCoist, Ian Durrant and Stuart McCall when they speak about Walter Smith.

"He (Jefferies) has been my gaffer for a good number of years as everyone knows and I have nothing but respect for him.

"It will be good to see him again, he has just taken over there and he has a big job on his hands to try to keep them in the league but our aim is to simply get a Hearts win.

"It will certainly be strange being in the opposite dugout but he is professional, I am professional and we are looking forward to the game.

"I think he will have a huge impact, he's been there, seen it, done it.

"He has worked at both ends of the table and had success at the top.

"He knows what is required and one thing is for sure he will get the very best out of the players."