Hearts V Ross County at Tynecastle Stadium : Match Preview

18 April 2014 05:01
Hearts V Ross County - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Jambos return for Walker?

Jamie Walker could make his first appearance for Hearts since mid-January against Ross County on Saturday after recovering from a foot injury.

The winger netted twice for Hearts Under-20s in their 2-1 win over Celtic on Tuesday and is now in line to feature against the Staggies at Tynecastle.

Definitely out of the Scottish Premiership clash for the relegation-bound Jambos are Paul McCallum (ankle) and Callum Tapping (knee).

Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson has pleaded with prospective Jambos owner Ann Budge to give boss Gary Locke a chance to prove himself under "normal" circumstances.

Budge will become the club's new chairwoman next month after fronting up the B#2.5million needed to end their administration hell.

But there is still uncertainty about whether she will give Locke a chance to lead the relegation-bound Gorgie outfit in the Scottish Championship next season.

The former club captain was unable to save Hearts from demotion his team was issued with a 15-point penalty and banned from signing players for most of the campaign.

But Stevenson insists Locke deserves an opportunity to operate on a level playing field.

"My advice to Ann would be to keep the manager," he said. "He is in his dream job - everybody knows how he feels about the club.

"He is Hearts through and through and for him to be manager of the club is probably the proudest thing in his life after his kids.

"But for him to have had to deal with what he's dealt with - in his first job - is nothing short of remarkable. The way he has dealt with it, he is a credit to himself and a credit to this club.

"It would only be fair he gets a right crack at it.

"Even that aside, he is a tremendous coach and a good, good manager. He will only get better.

"This season was a false start - next year you will see the real Gary Locke. He's had his hands and legs tied. He never had a chance to bring in players apart from Paul McCallum.

"He's had knock after knock but dealt with it superbly. He should get the chance to work under normal circumstances."

Skipper Richard Brittain is refusing to countenance the prospect of a relegation battle.

The ninth-placed Staggies are only one point above Partick Thistle who currently occupy the relegation play-off spot.

However, with five post-split games remaining, the 30-year-old midfielder is targeting seventh-placed Hibernian who are three points ahead.

"We want to look up the table, we don't want to look over our shoulder and we have never done that," Brittain said.

"We have always been a club that focuses on going forward and that will not change.

"So we want to focus on that seventh spot.

"If we continue the form we have shown since the turn of the year I don't think we will be too far away.

"The next five games will be tight encounters and it is five games that all the boys are looking forward to."

Source: PA