Barr confident in Hearts youth
Darren Barr is confident Hearts' young talent can fill the void should the first-team squad be decimated during the winter transfer window.
With Ryan McGowan in China after troubled Hearts agreed a £400,000 fee with Shandong Luneng Taishan, Barr switched from midfield to right-back for last night's goalless Edinburgh derby with Hibernian at Tynecastle. Dylan McGowan, Ryan's younger brother, deputised for the ill Andy Webster in central defence. With Kevin McHattie at left-back following a long-term knee injury sustained by Danny Grainger, captain Marius Zaliukas was the only member of Hearts' first-choice back four yet the quartet played admirably as Hearts had the better opportunities in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League encounter.
"There are boys in there who can come in and do a job and do well," Barr said.
"I don't think it should be a negative. At any club you just don't know what's going to happen, so you just need to get on with it."
Manager John McGlynn was uncertain what lies ahead when asked about the future. McGlynn said:
"Have you got a crystal ball? I've not got a clue."
Hearts are mired in financial difficulty and Australia international Ryan McGowan's imminent departure could ease their plight. Further departures are possible before during the winter break and ahead of the January 19 clash at Celtic, with Scotland defender Webster and Zaliukas among those out of contract at the end of the season who could bring in fees this month. Barr is happy to play wherever required by McGlynn and has called on the younger players - the likes of Scott Robinson and Jason Holt, who each impressed against Hibs - to step up. Former Falkirk captain Barr added: "I'm 27 now. If I had a chance at 19, 20 years old to play for Hearts... hopefully they can kick on, because there's a lot of good young boys there, it's just about biding their time.
"For experience it can only help them, and for the future of the club."
Robinson went off early in the second half with a knee problem but substitute Holt slotted in seamlessly, linking up well with striker John Sutton, who cut an isolated figure at times in a scrappy game fought largely in midfield. McGlynn appeared to question the value of the two-week hiatus after the Edinburgh derby was played in mild conditions. He said:
"Is the winter break because of the weather? Is it to give the players a break or to give the fans a break?
"We'll have a few days off and get back into it at the end of next week."
Whatever the make-up of his squad, McGlynn is targeting success in the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final against Inverness at the end of this month. Substitute goalkeeper Peter Enckelman will no longer be part of McGlynn's squad after leaving Tynecastle following the expiration of his contract. Hearts announced the Finland international, who arrived on a six-month deal in August following a long-term injury suffered by Mark Ridgers, has departed following one appearance, in the 1-0 defeat at Celtic in October after Jamie Macdonald was taken off injured. One of the more contentious issues during the derby was a first-half tackle by Ryan Stevenson on Hibs captain James McPake. Stevenson defended himself after Hibs boss Pat Fenlon described the challenge as "shocking" and visiting left-back Ryan McGivern called it a "red-card tackle".
"It was 50-50 and the ball was there to be won," Stevenson told Hearts' official website.
"I went in hard but in my mind I went in fair too. It may not look great in slow motion but my only intention was to win the ball, nothing else."
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