BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
RAITH ROVERS have been handed a major boost after Ross Callachan signed a one-year extension to his contract with the Championship playoff hopefuls.
The 23-year-old has been on the books of the Fife club since the age of 10 and has cemented a place in the starting line-up, making 137 appearances since his senior debut in 2011.
His previous deal was due to expire next summer, with a number of clubs north and south of the border known to be keeping tabs on the combative midfielder.
Locke said: “Since we’ve come to the club in the close season [assistant manager] Darren Jackson and I have been very impressed with the way Ross has gone about his business.
“We knew before we came here that he was a promising and very quick box to box player, but Jacko and I have worked on his finishing ability and we’re delighted to see he’s grabbing a few goals now as well.
“If he continues to stick in, there’s no reason why Ross can’t go a lot further in the game either up here or down south, but of course I’m hoping his continuing progression to top flight football is with Raith Rovers.”
Meanwhile, Locke has praised the fighting spirit of Kevin McHattie after the defender played through the pain barrier for the Fifers’ cause.
The former Hearts and Kilmarnock full-back suffered a dead leg during Rovers’ hard-fought 0-0 draw against Dunfermline last weekend, with Locke revealing the player was operating at “50 per cent” for the remainder of the constest.
However, McHattie refused to consider coming off and completed the 90 minutes, helping Raith to their third clean sheet in four matches and cementing third spot in the Championship.
And Locke is adamant McHattie’s bravery underlines exactly what he expects from his players as they aim to continue flying high in the second tier.
He lauded: “Kevin was really struggling but he showed the type of character that I am looking for here.
“In big matches and derby games you need boys who are willing to battle for you and play through wee injuries.
“He picked up a dead leg fairly early on but pushed through and managed to complete the 90 minutes, which was fantastic for us because if Kev had been forced off then it could have caused a problem for us.
“Instead, he stuck to his task and, considering he was probably only 50 per cent fit in the second half, has done really well to help us to another clean sheet.”