BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
RAITH ROVERS boss Gary Locke insists there is much more to come from Rudi Skacel after the Hearts legend made his eagerly anticipated debut for the Fifers.
The 37-year-old, who has penned a one-year deal at Stark’s Park, climbed from the bench on the hour-mark in Saturday’s disappointing Betfred Cup defeat against Alloa Athletic.
Despite a couple of neat touches, Skacel was unable to inspire a comeback as Rovers crashed out of the cup at the group phase.
However, Locke is certain Rovers fans will see the best of the mercurial Czech once he attains full fitness.
The Raith gaffer said: “Rudi is still a fair bit behind the rest of the boys, but I think we could see on Saturday that, when I get him fit, he will be a real goal threat for us.
“He will also bring a bit experience to the squad, which is something we are maybe lacking at the moment. We are quite a young team and some of our decision making against Alloa, particularly in the second half, left a bit to be desired.
“Rudi will bring plenty of that quality to the side and when he is on the pitch he can settle people down and have a really positive influence. We just need to get him up to speed.”
Skacel scored in both of Hearts’ Scottish Cup triumphs in 2006 and 2012 and bagged 48 goals during his two stints in Gorgie, ensuring him iconic status at Tynecastle.
However, his most recent stint in Scottish football was an underwhelming one, scoring once in 16 outings for Dundee United and struggling to make a real impact at Tannadice.
Meanwhile, Locke is refusing to press the panic button following Rovers’ early elimination from the new-look Betfred Cup.
Raith defeated Cove Rangers and Montrose before claiming a bonus point after winning the penalty shootout which followed their draw against Premiership Ross County.
But their defeat against the Wasps meant their second-placed finish in Group D was not enough to reach the last-16.
Nevertheless, Locke is determined to accentuate the positives ahead of their Championship opener against Ayr United on Saturday.
Locke added: “We know a trip to Ayr United is a really difficult start and we will need to improve from our performance at the weekend.
“But, it was a good pre-season campaign up until the Alloa game. Looking at the bigger picture, it is important we take those positives into the first game of the league season.”