Football - Locke out to profit from County woe

Hearts manager Gary Locke admits his team need to start taking advantage of fellow strugglers Ross County's own relegation concerns.

The Highland outfit are the closest to Premiership basement side Hearts, who were handed a 15-point penalty for plunging into administration during the summer, with a 14-point gap between the clubs.

The two teams have each lost their last five games in all competition since the 2-2 draw that they fought out last month.

Hibs did Edinburgh rivals Hearts a favour by overcoming County on Boxing Day in what was the only consolation for Locke after Hearts were beaten 4-0 at home to Kilmarnock on the same day.

And former club captain Locke knows County's recent barren patch will mean nothing if they cannot close the deficit.

He said: "It was a positive that Ross County lost but we can't keep slipping up ourselves. If we're going to give ourselves any chance we're going to have to start getting victories in.

"The only way we're going to get victories is by everybody sticking together and working hard, especially without the ball, and we didn't do that well enough against Kilmarnock.

"You've got to compete better than we did in the first half. It's certainly not something that could be levelled at the players much this season, but we didn't compete well enough.

"We didn't start the game well enough and Kilmarnock ended up a couple of goals up but we've certainly got to do better."

Hearts travel to St Mirren on Sunday before taking on fierce city rivals Hibs at Easter Road on January 2.

Locke will demand a marked improvement from his players following the setback on Thursday.

He said: "That was a day to forget, there's no doubt about it, but the good thing is that we don't have to wait long for the next game.

"But we're certainly going to have to do better than we did against Kilmarnock."