BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Kilmarnock manager Gary Locke has backed his former Hearts contingent to prove their worth after having his signing policy called into question.
The one-time Hearts boss has been reunited with Jamie MacDonald, Scott Robinson, Kevin McHattie and Dale Carrick at Rugby Park, players he worked with during his time in the Tynecastle dugout.
Prior to Saturday’s first win of the season at Dundee United, which was decided by a stunning debut strike from McHattie, Locke was aware that some supporters had raised doubts over his recruitment strategy.
But Locke, who has also just signed former Hearts trainee Conrad Balatoni following his departure at Partick Thistle, insists the former Hearts players have strengthened his squad.
He said: “One thing about a manager is that you get judged on the people you sign, there is no doubt about that.
“I’m well aware that people have made a big issue of Hearts players coming in.
“I’m not the type of manager that will just sign anyone, I feel as though these boys can come in and make a difference to the team.
“I’m also well aware that we didn’t get a lot of time for them to come in and settle in.
“I certainly feel that once these lads settle down and show their true potential that we can do well.”
Locke was delighted with the performances of goalkeeper MacDonald and left-back McHattie at Tannadice after the pair made telling contributions in the narrow victory.
Speaking to Kilmarnockfc.co.uk, Locke added: “I was very surprised that Kevin became available but when he did, the board managed to find that wee bit of money that I didn’t think we had.
“We were delighted with his debut but it’s important he maintains that standard. I thought he defended well and gave us an attacking threat.
“I feel we can get the best out of him and he can go on to big things.
“Jamie has been outstanding and over the years I’ve worked with him, I know what he is capable of.”