BY IAIN COLLIN –[email protected]_sport
GARY Locke expects Rudi Skacel to break his duck with Raith Rovers – just as soon as the former Hearts hero gets his fitness up to speed.
The 37-year-old returned to Scottish football for a fourth spell when he penned a season-long deal with Rovers last month.
The Czech Republic cap has been a second-half substitute in each of the Kirkcaldy side’s three league games as they have started with a hat-trick of wins to sit top of the Championship table.
The veteran play-maker, a Scottish Cup winner and Hampden goal-scorer in both 2006 and 2012 with Hearts, has yet to make a significant contribution for Rovers.
But former Jambos boss Locke insists it is only a matter of time before Skacel – who also had a spell with Saturday’s opponents, Dundee United – gets his name on the score-sheet.
Locke said: “Rudi’s fitness is getting better, it’s match-time he needs and sharpness in terms of the games.
“He’s been coming on for 25 minutes or half an hour and I think you can see he does have a steadying influence on the team when he comes on.
“Just his presence on the training pitch and around the place is a big help to us.
“Once we get him fully fit, I’m hopeful the goals will start coming as well.”
Meanwhile, Rovers have been struck a blow after both midfielder Scott Robertson and defender Craig Barr were ruled out for lengthy spells.
Robertson has made just two substitute’s appearances this season after finishing last term with a groin problem, whilst Barr has been ruled out since the close-season with a recurring pelvic injury.
Scans indicated surgery was required for both and the duo are facing more time on the sidelines.
Locke added: “We’re hopeful it might be about six to 10 weeks for Scott and then he’ll be back.
“I think Mango (Barr) will be a bit longer than that.
“It’s frustrating for the boys. I’ve been there myself, it’s a frustrating period for them, but it’s just important they keep their heads up and the other boys in the squad lift their spirits.”