Hearts: Gary Locke keen to make positive points breakthrough

Scottish Premiership

  • Venue: Easter Road
  • Date: Thursday, 2 January
  • Kick-off: 19:45 GMT

Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; updates on BBC Sport website

Hearts manager Gary Locke says the chance to move onto a positive points total is providing major motivation for Thursday's Edinburgh derby.

The Tynecastle side are currently on -2 points after incurring a 15-point deduction for entering administration.

"If we win the derby we go into plus points," said Locke.

"It would be huge, psychologically, for everyone here, just getting into positive points would be fantastic. That's been our aim."

Hearts have already managed two wins against Hibs this season, beating the Easter Road side 1-0 in both the Scottish Premiership and the Scottish League Cup.

Pat Fenlon was in charge of Hibs in both of those defeats, but he was replaced by Terry Butcher in November and the former Caley Thistle boss has only lost one of his seven games in charge so far.

We're facing a different Hibs side from the two we've already faced this season. They're a lot more physical. Terry's put a lot of bigger lads in the team

Gary Locke Hearts manager

"Hibs have certainly got better since Terry went in there which is not a shock to me," said Locke. "I knew that would happen.

"So we're facing a different Hibs side from the two we've already faced this season. They're a lot more physical, a lot stronger. Terry's put a lot of bigger lads in the team.

"Hibs are favourites, there's no doubt about that. But if we can put in a performance like we did at St Mirren, then I'm sure I've got players who can cause Hibs one or two problems.

"We've had some good results this season against Hibs and Aberdeen, probably two of the bigger teams in Scotland."

Hearts were boosted by the return of Ryan Stevenson for Sunday's 1-1 draw against St Mirren and the attacking midfielder completed the full 90 minutes.

It was Stevenson's goal that gave the Jambos victory in the League Cup quarter-final.

"I've not got a lot of experienced players, but the ones I have, when they're playing well, are a massive influence on the team," said Locke, who became Hearts' manager in March.

"Ryan Stevenson coming back in and Jamie Hamill playing as well as what he has played all season; if the two of them are on top form they're a huge asset to the team."

Locke insists that despite Hearts' off-field challenges this season, the feeling of winning Thursday's tussle at Easter Road would be just as sweet.

"You celebrate any derby win, we've certainly enjoyed the two derbies so far this season," Locke added.

"So we've got to make sure we go down and enjoy this one. It'll be like a normal derby; 100 miles per hour, it'll be a battle, but it's important we make sure we win it.

"I fully expect Hibs to come at us very quickly and it's important we stand up to that. You've got to be competitive and you've got to try and win your individual battles.

"I've been involved in a lot of derbies as a player and a coach and now as a manager. I think you find that the guys that win their individual battles, normally it's that team that wins."