Scottish Premiership - Locke ready for return of duo

Hearts manager Gary Locke admitted his side struggled in the absence of captain Danny Wilson and Jamie Hamill in Sunday's 2-0 loss to Partick.

Defender Wilson sat out a second successive match due to illness, while midfielder Hamill served a one-match suspension. The pair are regarded as two important players in a paper-thin squad made up mostly of youngsters.

The defeat to the Jags, courtesy of first-half goals from on-loan Sheffield United striker Lyle Taylor and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, has left Hearts 19 points adrift of Ross County at the bottom with seemingly no hope of preserving their top-flight status.

Locke, however, is refusing to throw in the towel and he hopes to have the experienced pair available for Saturday's visit of Motherwell.

Locke said: "You could see without Danny Wilson and Jamie Hamill it was a massive ask for us.

"The only saving grace is that the two of them will be back for next week so hopefully I'll be able to make a couple of changes.

"That's the galling thing, when you have boys who are not doing their jobs properly in an ideal world you take them out and put others in.

"We haven't got that but at least I can make a couple next week.

"It has been a problem for us all season. We have to do better. It doesn't matter if it is a young team, I can't use that as an excuse.

"We didn't do well enough in the first half. Maybe mentally Thursday's derby had an effect.

"But they are young lads and they should certainly be doing better than that."