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11 of 011 Tommi Gronlund 38 ;Steve Fulton 55 ;Gary Wales 62 L SPL H

Hearts hit man Gary backing McManus to bounce back quickly


HEARTS striker Gary Wales today sent a get well message to crocked Hibs striker Tam McManus, telling the Easter Road forward: "You’ll get back to your best."

The Easter Road starlet suffered a horror double leg break in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Dundee at Dens Park, the injury ruling the 20-year-old out for the remainder of the season.

McManus also suffered ankle ligament damage after coming off worse in a 50-50 challenge with Massimo Beghetto.

The injury left Hibees boss Franck Sauzee "devastated" and has come at a crucial period for both the player and club.

The Leith outfit have slumped to second bottom of the Premier League with Sauzee still waiting for his first taste of victory since taking over from Alex McLeish seven matches ago.

In that time he has seen just one goal scored by his team - John O’Neil’s late equaliser in the December derby at Tynecastle.

Sauzee is a big admirer of McManus’ talents and had handed him a prominent role in attack in recent weeks as the Hibees strived to break their barren run in front of goal.

However, Saturday’s incident has left the forward facing the prospect of months on the sidelines, McManus admitting his initial fear was that he may never play football again.

However, city strike rival Wales is convinced the Hibs ace will bounce back next season and prove just why Sauzee handed him a new long-term contract earlier this month tying him to Hibs until 2007.

"Tam has got to stay as positive as he can about the situation, although it won’t be easy," he said. "He will be down about things just now and wondering whether he should have gone in for the tackle.

"But these things happen in football and I hope he gets over it. I’m sure he will and get back to his best next season."

Wales, who netted his third goal in five matches in Saturday’s 3-1 triumph over Aberdeen which sent the Jambos into fourth place in the table, knows better than most what it takes to fight back from a horror injury, a double leg fracture suffered against Rangers at Ibrox in May 1999 keeping him out for over a year.

He has urged McManus to concentrate on the future rather than dwell on the past as he sets off on the long road to recovery.

"Suffering a bad injury is very depressing but it’s important he keeps his chin up," he said.

"He must remain mentally positive as it can be easy to throw the towel in. That’s where his team-mates and manager can be a great help.

"It’s important that he doesn’t set any targets as that way he will only be disappointed if he doesn’t meet them.

"But like myself, Tam has suffered the injury at a young age so the recovery should be so much quicker than if it had happened later in his career."

Wales has struck up a tremendous understanding with team-mate Ricardo Fuller as Hearts continue their impressive revival.

The Jambos head to Almondvale and clash with third-placed Livingston this weekend looking to close the gap on the Lions to three points, albeit with a game more played.

The West Lothian team have already defeated Craig Levein’s side home and away this season but Wales is undaunted by the short trip along the M8.

"We have nothing to be afraid of," he said. "We are playing well just now and the confidence in the team is excellent.

"Although Livingston have not been doing quite so well recently we are well aware of what they are capable of. But we have thrid place in our sights now and that is what we’re aiming for."

Taken from the Scotsman

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