Pressley tips Barr to make it at Hearts

DARREN BARR can become a defensive mainstay for Hearts if given an extended run in his favoured centre-back position, according to his former coach Steven Pressley.

The Falkirk boss today endorsed Barr as a quality centre-back who will, in time, prove himself to the Tynecastle supporters despite an indifferent start to his career in Edinburgh.

Pressley, a former Hearts captain, coached the Scotland internationalist last season and has advised him to be patient with Marius Zaliukas and Ismael Bouzid occupying the centre-back berths and Andy Webster ready to challenge for a first-team place.

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Barr joined Hearts on a pre-contract agreement last summer and initially played at right-back before dropping out of the side last October. Pressley believes Barr's fortunes reflect his own start at Tynecastle, which involved an uninspiring time at right-back before a successful eight years in central defence.

"Darren's situation is similar to mine when I moved to Hearts in 1998," said Pressley.

"I was initially asked to play right-back, not my most natural position. After an indifferent three or four months I finally got my chance at centre-back and I didn't look back. I ended up playing there eight years.

"Fingers crossed Darren goes on to have the same experience because he's a terrific defender. Once he gets the opportunity to play in the centre of defence I'm sure he will prove that.

"You don't split up a partnership that works so it looks like Darren will have to be patient."

Meanwhile, another former Hearts captain, Michael Stewart, has begun a trial period with Leeds United after leaving Genclerbirligi of Turkey. "We will have a look at him over the next few days," said manager Simon Grayson.