Barrie McKay rues 'freak' injuries hitting Hearts stars as he opens up on his battle with the rare and unknown

The Hearts star returned to action on Saturday after months out with a knee injury.
The winger is back in the Hearts fold.The winger is back in the Hearts fold.
The winger is back in the Hearts fold.

Barrie McKay admits a season of bad injury luck has proven challenging as he looks to end the campaign at Hearts strongly.

The attacker was making just his fifth Premiership appearance of the season off the bench against Kilmarnock in a 1-1 draw last Saturday. After playing a part in the Europa Conference League qualifiers against Rosenborg and PAOK, the 29-year-old had to wait until December for his first league outing.

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An awkward fall on his knee in the 1-0 win away at Hibs on December 27th aggravated the PCL injury that had hampered the first half of his season, resulting in another lengthy absence. Now back in the squad, McKay is feeling strong and keen to remain a part of Steven Naismith's plans between now and May.

"It's been a tough season for me as I have just been in and out with injury," the star told the Edinburgh Evening News. "It's been one of those things, you need to keep working away and get back fit. It was my knee again, I fell awkwardly on it and tweaked it a bit. I rested up and started strengthening it again quite quickly. I got back relatively quick.

"It's been really stop-start. When I first did it, that was a freak moment and you work so hard to come back. You aren't back for that long and then you do it again. It's just one of they seasons and I just hope I can finish strong."

When asked if he was back quicker than anticipated, he said: "A little bit yeah. Every footballer will tell you they want to be back as quick as possible so probably a bit longer as well. It was about taking my time and making sure I ticked all the boxes again, started building up the training again and made sure I did a few weeks of that before playing in a bounce game. I was just unfortunate in the Hibs game to fall awkwardly on it and I tweaked it again."

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A PCL injury is rare and most commonly associated with car crashes or a fall on the knee. To damage that area of his knee running came as a surprise and an awkward fall so soon after his return was insult to an already frustrating injury for McKay.

He is not the only one to be recovering from long-term injuries this term. Craig Halkett and Liam Boyce have both spent extended periods out with blows of their own and having each other has been a source of comfort, especially in McKay's case where the injury comes with heavy dosages of the unknown.

"Nobody wants to be injured and it is quite freak injuries we seem to get," admitted the attacker. "You need to deal with that. I am quite close with Craig Halkett, Liam Boyce and stuff, and we kind of keep each other going.

"That has been good. Since I have been at the club up until this year, I hadn't been injured. It is definitely been a different year for me so you just hope to get out the other side of it and come back stronger.

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"I did it running and that was the freak thing about it, probably the way I did it the second time was the way you probably should do it. That's quite frustrating as you don't really hear about it much so you don't really know much about it and you don't hear many players getting it either. It was quite an unknown but you trust the physios and the specialists, and get on with it.

"I'd never heard of anybody having it before so that was difficult. You can't get advice on the things you should and shouldn't be doing. So you just need to take what they tell you to do as it comes."

Now with his mind focused solely on wrapping up third place as a certainty and booking a Scottish Cup final spot with victory over Rangers, the attack-minded star is keen to get involved in action. There will be an element of patience required, but he hopes the injury bug is being left in the past.

"The squad have been doing great," added McKay. "They have gone on a really good run and it's about building on that. Hopefully I can add to that.

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"I feel good. I have had a lot of weeks training. Every week I tend to feel that wee bit sharper but it's match fitness, that's a lot different to training fitness. That is what I need to build up and hopefully I get there before the end of the season to show what I can do again.

"It's going to take time, it's about having patience with myself and not to get too frustrated that not everything is going to be the same as what it was when I was fully fit. Even having the break and coming back pre-season in a good place, hopefully I can get a lot more games before then."

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