Locke closing in on first Raith signings

Raith manager Gary Locke receives the keys to his new club car from Stuart McPhail at sponsors Fife Hyundai. Pic: Tony Fimister
Raith manager Gary Locke receives the keys to his new club car from Stuart McPhail at sponsors Fife Hyundai. Pic: Tony Fimister

Gary Locke is closing in on first signings as Raith Rovers manager.

The recently appointed boss is in advanced talks with two targets as he looks to bolster the 15-man squad left by his predecessor Ray McKinnon.

Forwards are high on the manager’s list of priorities after Ryan Hardie, Harry Panayiotou and Louis Longridge returned to their parent clubs at the end of the season.

“We’re close with a couple of players,” Locke told the Press.

“It’s evident we need to try and get a striker in - if not one, then two.

“It won’t be easy because we’re working with a tight budget, so it’s important we get value for money and players who are going to make the team even better.”

Locke could also be in the market for a new left back with last season’s ever-present Rory McKeown yet to decide on his future.

“I know what players are like at this team of year,” Locke said.

“They wait to see if there’s something better and are quite reluctant to commit.

“I’ve tried to concentrate more on strengthening the squad.

“There’s a couple of contracts from last season that are up and players will move on, and there’s still a couple undecided about what they are going to do.

“For me, it’s important that we try to move to get players that are 100 per cent committed to being here.

“That’s what we’ve been working on as well as getting games organised for preseason, so it’s been a busy period.”

Locke hinted that he could be eyeing moves for players he has worked with in the past at previous clubs Hearts and Kilmarnock, with the latter looking to offload as many as 14 players this summer.

“Any manager will tell you, if players you’ve worked with in the past become available, and they’ve done a good job for you, it’s only natural that you will try to take them to other clubs,” Locke said.

“I’m well aware that Kilmarnock released a few players but some of them might be outwith our price bracket.

“That’s just the nature of football, but if there are one or two that I think will come here and make the team better I’ve certainly not got any qualms bringing them in.”

One signing confirmed this week was left winger Bobby Barr from Morton, who officially put pen to paper on a two-year contract after signing an initial pre-contract agreement in Ferbuary.

Locke added: “It was good to meet Bobby because sometimes it can be difficult when you’ve signed a pre-contract and then a new manager comes in.

“I made the point of phoning him on his holiday to reassure him that I know him well and think he’s a really good player.

“He did well in the Championship last season and hopefully can do well for us as well.”