9am Briefing: Falkirk skipper Barr to join Hearts

FALKIRK captain Darren Barr will join Hearts in the summer after the Tynecastle club brushed off competition from Hibs, Aberdeen and Dundee – plus interested English clubs – to secure him on a pre-contract deal.

The 24-year-old Scotland internationalist has agreed a three-year contract and now wants to leave the Bairns on a high by climbing off the bottom of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League by the end of the season.

He said: "While I am looking forward to making the move my immediate priority is, as captain of Falkirk, to lead them away from the relegation zone in the SPL.

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"I have enjoyed my time at Falkirk and, while there was an option for me to leave in this transfer window, I have always stated I was happy to see out the remainder of my contract and the season with the club."

Levein to meet Ferguson over return bid

CRAIG LEVEIN will meet Barry Ferguson in the near future in a bid to persuade the midfielder to follow Allan McGregor and Kris Boyd in returning to the Scotland set-up.

The Rangers pair have already agreed to resume their international careers and Levein will now turn to former skipper Ferguson before his first match as manager against the Czech Republic at Hampden on 3 March.

Boyd has lifted his self-imposed exile after being consistently overlooked by former boss George Burley, while McGregor jumped at the chance to resurrect his international career.

Now Ferguson, the goalkeeper's partner in crime in the "Boozegate" scandal and gestures to cameras that followed, will be offered the same opportunity.

The Birmingham player, whose form has helped City to an unprecedented 15-match unbeaten run, has admitted interest in making an international comeback.

Henin reaches semis

JUSTINE HENIN moved one step closer to another remarkable Belgian return when she advanced to the semi-finals of the Australian Open today.

The 27-year-old ended the giant-killing run of Nadia Petrova 7-6 (7/3) 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena to become just the third women's wildcard entry to reach the last four of a grand slam.

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The previous player to do so was Henin's countrywoman Kim Clijsters in September last year when she memorably returned from retirement, and becoming a mother, to win the US Open.

In the men's singles, Croatia's Marin Cilic, the 14th seed, claimed his place in the semi-finals, beating Andy Roddick (No.7) after a five-set thriller 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3.