AN ANKLE injury to Darren Barr has left the Hearts manager Gary Locke with a dilemma over when and how to use the versatile midfielder.
The 28-year-old is suffering pain and must be nursed through to the end of the season, with careful consideration given to which games he participates in.
Callum Tapping replaced Barr in midfield for Saturday’s 2-0 defeat by Aberdeen at Pittodrie, 24 hours after the ankle complaint forced his withdrawal from the Hearts squad. Locke is hopeful Barr will be available for Ross County’s visit to Tynecastle this weekend. However, he admitted the player needs rest and must be managed on a game-by-game basis between now and the summer.
Barr is out of contract at Hearts in June and could be one of several experienced players to leave as the club cut costs. Between now and then, Locke wants him to play an important role as he attempts to guide the team away from the lower regions of the Scottish Premier League.
“He has an ankle problem which is an ongoing thing,” Locke told the Evening News. “He rests it for a few days and then feels good, so we are just trying to manage him between now and the end of the season. All he really needs is to rest it and it should get better but, with the position we’re in, we’re needing everybody playing. It’s all hands on deck at the moment.
“We have a two-week break coming up after the Ross County game. Darren was pencilled in to play and he pulled out on Friday, so it was a last-minute change. I’m hoping that the rest over the weekend will have helped it settle down. Hopefully, he’ll be back in training this week.”