Grainger aiming for Hearts return in time for derby

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Danny GRAINGER hopes to return for Hearts in the New Year Edinburgh derby on January 2 after being ruled out for at least six weeks with a groin injury.

The left back has played through pain this season since sustaining a groin niggle in the 1-0 home defeat to Dundee United in July, but he has set the target of a comeback at Easter Road after failing to shake off a troublesome strain.

The former St Johnstone and Dundee United man will undergo an operation in England tomorrow and is already desperate to return to action.

“Unfortunately I injured myself earlier in the season and I was able to cope with it right the way through most of the games, but in the last few games it was getting a bit too painful,” Grainger told Hearts TV. “I don’t feel as if I’m doing myself or the team justice. Both the manager and the physio went to see a specialist down in England and, unfortunately, I’ve got to go for an operation later in the week and then hopefully get back onto the road to recovery.

“It hasn’t been too bad. I’ve had to modify my training, missing a day or two here and there and on international weeks giving it a full week’s rest. But, it got to a point where I couldn’t carry on with it and I didn’t want to let the team down.”

Grainger joined Hearts in summer on a free transfer from the Perth Saints and almost immediately saw his prospect of senior football at Tynecastle improve when Lee Wallace signed for Rangers. His expected replacement, at least in the short term, is expected to be Australian youngster Ryan McGowan.

“When I first signed, there was Lee Wallace here and I was biding my time before I got my chance,” said Grainger. “Then, things went right for me and Lee got the move he deserved. It was nice to get in the team and I’ve hardly missed any game time. It’s really disappointing on that side but I feel as if I should get myself back to full fitness.

“Gowser [McGowan] came in at the weekend and by all means he was one of our best players. There was never any doubt he would do that – he is a top player. It’s time for him to take his chance and hopefully when I come back he can slip up and I can get back in the team. Otherwise, it could be a long wait for me.”