Birthday boy Skacel still got it, says Raith boss Locke

Rudi Skacel (left) and Gary Locke (right) worked together during the Czech midfielder's second spell at Hearts.
Rudi Skacel (left) and Gary Locke (right) worked together during the Czech midfielder's second spell at Hearts.
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Rudi Skacel celebrated his 37th birthday this morning by training with Raith Rovers for the first time.

But despite his advancing years, Rovers manager Gary Locke insists that the Czech playmaker has lost none of the ability that earned him cult hero status at Hearts.

Locke was part of the coaching staff during the attacking midfielder’s second spell at Tynecastle and watched him hit the net 25 times in 58 appearances for the Edinburgh side.

Skacel, who has also featured for Dundee United, has been out of the game since leaving Mladá Boleslav in March but Locke is keen to bring the former international to Stark’s Park on a one-year deal.

“I’m certainly not going to bring Rudi to the club just for sentiment,” Locke said.

“I know what Rudi can do - I tried to take him back to Hearts when I was manager there but unfortunately we couldn’t bring him in due to administration.

“He’s been playing regularly for the past two to three seasons, and when you see him today he still looks really fit.

“We’ll assess him over the next few days in training, but with his experience and the way he can finish, he’ll be a big asset if we can get him.”

As well as featuring seven times for his country, Skacel has also made appearances for big clubs across Europe including Slavia Prague, Marseille, Panathaniakos and Southampton.

Locke believes this experience - on top of the technical ability that Skacel possesses - will be a huge asset to his relatively young squad - if the club can source the funds to sign him.

“Skacel is exactly what we need,” he said.

“You can see we’re a young team, and he has a calming influence, as well as an enormous goal threat. He’s shown that right through his career.

“He’s got a couple of suitcases with him so I don’t think he’s just here for a couple of days. It’s important that we try, if we can, to get something sorted out.

“We might need a bit of help from local businessmen in Fife and Edinburgh but I’m certainly hopeful he will bring a lot to the club.

“If we can get him tied up it would be great, and we’ll also try to get another striker in if we can as well.”