WHEN Hearts defender John Souttar hobbled out of the first game of the Premiership season at Aberdeen in August, he did not envisage having to write-off the next five months, never mind making his comeback in a team who are five points adrift at the basement.

The 23-year-old’s availability to Daniel Stendel in the second half of the campaign could be integral to the Gorgie side’s hopes of preserving their top-flight status.

Bigger tests will follow, but Souttar’s stellar performance in Saturday’s 5-0 Scottish Cup fourth round thrashing of Airdrie was a notable positive on a morale-boosting afternoon for the Edinburgh club.

“It was brilliant to get back out there”, said the Scotland international. “I’ve missed it a lot, just the feeling to get back out there on a Saturday.

“There’s been a few of us

who have been out injured and to see what happened to us

in the first half of the season was difficult.

“But there’s a few of us back now and all we can do now is concentrate on the situation we find ourselves in now and we have a few months to get out of the situation we are in.

“Saturday was a good start, but it’s just a start.

“Positivity comes with winning and we need to start winning games and winning them quickly. Wednesday [against Ross County] is a huge game for the club and we are all aware of that. We need to go there and get a result.”