Hearts: Keep squad intact, urges manager Gary Locke

Hearts manager Gary Locke stressed the importance of maintaining the current Tynecastle squad after his players humbled Kilmarnock.

Ryan Stevenson scored a hat-trick and Billy King and Callum Paterson were also on target in the 5-0 triumph.

"If we can keep a hold of the nucleus of this squad we'll give ourselves a good chance," Locke told BBC Radio Scotland.

"It's not going to be easy. A lot of boys are out of contract."

Relegation was confirmed for Hearts last month, with a 15-point deduction for being in administration at the start of campaign a major factor in their demotion.

The gap between the bottom side and Killie now stands at 11 points with two games to play.

"It was a great result, great performance," Locke reflected. "We've been threatening to do that for a couple of weeks and I'm delighted.

"You can see that they've learned from the mistakes. They're getting better with confidence. Everybody wanted the ball and I thought we played some great stuff.

"I'm really happy for the fans again because that's the type of performance that their support deserves."

Locke's own future is still in doubt, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.

But, with businesswoman Ann Budge in the final stages of taking the club out of administration, the manager is confident Hearts are heading in the "right direction".