GORDON Durie reckons the arrival of Craig Levein at Hearts has made Rangers' chances of winning the SFA Youth Cup even harder.

The Tynecastle club announced yesterday that former Scotland manager Levein has been appointed as their director of football.

He will be at St Mirren Park this evening to watch the capital club's kids - many of whom have featured for the first team this season - in action against Rangers.

And Durie, who admitted he felt for Gary Locke and Billy Brown after their services were dispensed with, reckons that will lift the Hearts performance.

Yet, he is confident that his own charges, who just missed out on winning the Under-20 league last week, can end the 2013/14 campaign on a high.

He said: "This will be their first chance to impress their director of football.

"The cup final tonight will be the first time they have had the chance to show what they can do and I am sure they will be up for it.

"I have got to say I am really disappointed for Lockey. I feel for him and Billy.

"I think they have done a fantastic job at Hearts in difficult times.

"I am as shocked as anybody that Lockey is no longer involved.

"He is Hearts through and through. Gary played when I was at Hearts and Billy was in at East Fife after I went there.

"I know the two of them and know how hurt they will be feeling. I wish Lockey and Billy every success wherever they go.

"But any time things like this happen at football clubs players go all out to impress.

"We drew 1-1 with Hearts at home here and then beat them 4-1 away. But it will be a completely different team that they put out tonight.

"We aren't reading anything into those games because they will be bringing in boys with first-team experience."

Durie, though, believes his own players are determined to make amends for letting their grip on the SPFL Under-20 League slip in agonising fashion last week.

His side just needed to draw with Old Firm rivals Celtic in their final fixture at Lennoxtown last Tuesday to clinch the title.

However, they conceded two second-half goals to lose 2-0 and the Hoops wrapped up the trophy when they beat Dundee United 2-0 at Tannadice last Friday.

Durie said: "It was a disappointment the way the league campaign finished, but the boys have been fantastic for the whole of the season.

"We didn't have the best of starts in the league and if you had said to us we would end up in second spot just a point behind we would have snapped it up.

"It was a disappointment, but the boys have trained well over the last week.

"They have given us their all this season. They couldn't have given us any more.

"We were obviously disappointed after the game last Tuesday. But they had a day off and they have trained great.

"You get highs and lows in football and last week was a big low.

"But they now have an opportunity to end on a real high."

Durie revealed that he had considered playing both Fraser Aird and Lewis Macleod, who has been sidelined with a virus, in the match.

He said: "Airdy and Lewis would have played. They were quite keen. But they are established first-team players.

"Lewis is getting there and the name was mentioned, but I think he has to look forward to next season.

"We want a fit Lewis Macleod ready to play in the first team next season."