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'Locke can win the title'

Jamie Walker has urged prospective Hearts owner Ann Budge to retain Gary Locke as manager next term, insisting he is the man to beat Rangers to the Championship title, writes Alan Temple.

The winger believes his boss has had his hands tied behind his back this term after a 15-point penalty and a transfer embargo imposed when the club entered administration.

But the young Jambos have shown signs of coming of age in recent weeks, racking up three wins and a draw from their last four games, an unbeaten streak Walker hopes to continue against Hibs this afternoon.

Budge, whose BIDCO (1874) company have been given permission to take over by creditors of former majority shareholders Ukio Bankas and UBIG, is expected to come to power in the coming days.

Walker hopes her review of management staff at Tynecastle ends in Locke being retained for a promotion charge.

The Scotland under-21 international said: "Gary Locke has got to be given a chance. He has had two hands tied behind his back this season and there hasn't been much for him to work with.

"But he is a good manager. This season has been his first season as well and he's still learning. So hopefully he can stay in and get a proper chance next season.

"Rangers will be favourites, but we've shown over the last few games that we are a good side. With a few additions to the squad hopefully we can look to win the title.

"It has been a hard season, but it has been a good experience and hopefully next season we can kick on. All of the boys have improved so we're looking forward to next season."

Walker's own deal is set to expire in the summer, but Hearts have an option to keep the player for the 2014/15 campaign, so he is determined to impress in the final four games of the season.

He added: "I'd love to stay, but we'll just need to see what happens. There's a one-year option on my contract, so it's up to the club.

"I'll have to wait and see what happens when the new owner comes in. But if they want me to stay I'll happily stay."

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