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Craig Halkett responds to Hearts injury prone claims as he relishes pre-season

Craig Halkett says he doesn't pay any attention to suggestions he is injury prone.

The Hearts centre-back is enjoying pre-season after missing the last two through injury and insists he is now fighting fit. The 29-year-old has had a torrid time with his fitness and has played just 14 Premiership games over the last two years as a result, with the Jambos sorely missing his presence in the heart of defence.

The last time Halkett kicked a ball competitively was in February but he has been able to take part in pre-season training with his teammate and is gunning for the season ahead. He admits he was even looking forward to the fitness stuff this year after missing out previously.

He told the Edinburgh Evening News: “It's been a hard couple of years. During the off-season, people were asking: 'Are you looking forward to pre-season?' Your normal answer is: 'No.' This year, I was actually looking forward to it because I haven't actually done pre-season for two years. It's not until you miss out on one that you realise how important it is.

“In the last few years I've been trying to play catch-up. As hard as you work with the coaches, physios and sports scientists, I don't think you can every replicate what the squad do during pre-season. Playing catch-up was kind of my story for the start of the last two seasons. Obviously, it didn't work out for me. I kept breaking down. Since I got my tidy-up operation at the start of April, my knee is feeling brilliant and my fitness is feeling good. I'm raring to go.

“I'm older now and I understand how football works. In my position, it's definitely the most important pre-season. I'm not daft. The boys who played there last year did really well. It's not a case of me getting fit to play games and just expecting to come straight back into the team. I know I'm going to need to work really hard and fight for my place. That's something I'm going to enjoy and I'm looking forward to doing it.”

Halkett insists he doesn't pay attention to online talk about him being injury prone, adding: "IIt doesn't really bother me, I don't go looking for it Your mates see it and your family see it and they obviously bring it up. You've really got to just have the blinkers on. You can't let anything like that affect you. You are a footballer, you want to come in, train every day and play games. You don't mean to get injured.

“In my case, a lot of it is freak tackles. It's not muscle injuries or something you can blame on fitness or training or not doing the right things. I've obviously had one of the worst injuries you can get in football. It's just about getting your head down, working as hard as you can, and doing everything you can on and off the park to stay as fit as possible.”