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



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.”