Darren Barr desperate to be part of Hearts' run-in

Heart of Midlothian
Barr has endured a torrid first season at Tynecastle

Darren Barr is determined to achieve full fitness and force his way into the Hearts first team now that he has had a hernia operation.

The defender moved from Falkirk to Tynecastle last summer but his first season there has been marred by injury.

Ten of Barr's appearances this season came before the end of October and the 26-year-old has had only one run-out since, in a December win at Motherwell.

"I just want to play over the last few weeks of the season," he said.

If he can do that, he will be helping Hearts attempt to clinch third place in the Scottish Premier League.

Seven points ahead of fourth-place Dundee United with four games remaining, the Gorgie side can manage that this weekend if results go their way - United play Celtic in Glasgow on Sunday.

Ahead of Hearts' visit to Kilmarnock on Saturday, Barr said: "I had to get a hernia operation and it's been recurring over the last few weeks so I've been getting injections to see if it settles down.

"I need to try and get myself back in the swing of things and hopefully kick on from there."

On his stop-start first season in maroon, he said: "It's been a bit frustrating more than anything.

"I felt I did OK. I went out of the side and the boys went on a good run. I got back in and got a wee injury."

Barr is conscious that manager Jim Jefferies has other defensive options, such as Marius Zaliukas and Andy Webster, but seems prepared for the challenge to oust them from the first 11.

"There's a lot of good players here and it makes me determined to get in the side and show what I can do," he said.

"I need to be confident in my own ability. You want to play more than anything at this stage of your career."

Despite only one victory and five draws in their last eight games, Barr insists Hearts are close to returning to winning ways.

He said: "We've not been playing badly. It's about trying to get the wins to get over the line.

"It doesn't matter what the other teams do, it's about what we do.

"If we get the win on Saturday that could be it."