Gary Locke and Kevin McHattie reunited at Raith Rovers after Hearts and Kilmarnock spells

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BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport

GARY Locke believes his previous two spells working with Kevin McHattie helped him win the race to sign the in-demand defender for Raith Rovers.

The left-back, who has played nearly 100 games in the top-flight, has penned a one-year deal to replace the out-of-contract Rory McKeown, who is keen on securing a move down south this summer.

After beginning his career at Dunfermline, McHattie made his first-team debut five years ago at Hearts, where Locke was then first-team coach and subsequently became manager in 2013.

Raith Rovers Stadium

When the Scotland under-21 cap left Tynecastle last summer he was reunited with Locke at Kilmarnock and, after last month being told he did not have a future at Rugby Park, has resurrected their relationship at Stark’s Park.

Locke told Capital City Press: “I’m delighted to get Kevin on board after working with him at Hearts and Kilmarnock.

“We had a problem here because we didn’t have a left-back, because Rory McKeown is moving on.

“I knew Kevin was available. He’s a fantastic young player, who has played loads of first-team games, so it was a no-brainer to get him in.

“He’s played at a great level and, for his age, he’s got so many first-team games behind him, which is great. It means he’ll bring a lot of experience for someone of his age, which is fantastic for us.

“The most important thing is I think he’s a top player and he’ll come in and improve the good squad that we’ve inherited.

“There were a couple of clubs wanted him but the fact that he’s worked with me before helped and hopefully he enjoys working with me.

“He’s dropping down a division but, for me, he’s a Premiership player and I’m confident he’ll improve our team.”

McHattie signed for Kilmarnock on a three-year deal last summer after being freed by Hearts but will now join former Rugby Park team-mate Chris Johnston at Raith.

He said on social media: “I’m delighted to have signed for Raith Rovers and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

@IainCollin

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