HEARTS captain Christophe Berra says the damage caused by his hamstring muscle being ripped from the bone was so severe the surgeon likened it to a bomb detonating.

The 33-year-old sustained the excruciating injury in the August 11 victory over Celtic and was initially told he could be sidelined for up to six months.

However, two months ahead of schedule and with 45 minutes of action in a friendly against Linlithgow Rose on Wednesday behind him, the influential defender is hoping to be back on the frontline to help his team-mates for today’s visit of Rangers as Craig Levein’s side attempt to stop their own season from imploding.

A promising campaign that saw the Gorgie side set the pace in the Premiership until three weeks ago has faltered in the wake of unrelenting injury woe.

Craig Levein’s side have taken one point from their last 12 amid a five-game scoreless run as further set-backs to John Souttar, Steven Naismith and Uche Ikpeazu have diminished Hearts’ strength.

With this in mind, Berra is delighted his rehabilitation period is now at an end.

“I’ve been training for about a week now, although I had been training with the physios for two or three weeks and the sports scientist before that,” said Berra.

“I was initially told I would be out for four to six months. I had my surgery and the surgeon said when he was in there and could see it that a bomb went off really because of the damage to my tendons - that’s how damaged they were. He had to stitch it up and if all went well I could be back in four to five months. I am ahead of schedule but I have worked hard.

“Everybody is different and putting that work in early doors, getting the right advice from the medical team and looking after myself diet-wise until I got back running - it’s small things like that. The medical staff probably tried to keep the reins on a little bit but my strength tests have been good and they can see I’m capable.

“I set this game as a target when I saw the schedule. If you can do that without saying you will be back, it’s good to have something to work to and that was one I chose as soon as I was outside running.”

Berra has attended 13 of the 15 matches he has missed and only missed the Premiership win at Kilmarnock and Betfred Cup victory away to Dunfermline because he was on crutches for the first fortnight after his operation.

Even though he has been unable to help his team-mates on the pitch, Berra has made sure his presence has been felt in the dressing room at training and on match days.

“You’re there everyday, even on game day a couple of hours before the game and then after, saying a few things and maybe speaking to individuals and trying to pass on some advice to the younger ones.

“I didn’t need to go to all the games but I just wanted to be there and be involved. I felt if I wasn’t there I wouldn’t be doing myself justice.

“You enjoy the wins but I won’t lie, you want to be out there winning and be involved. If you’re involved in a successful team, success will come to you individually.”

Berra hopes his comeback can spark a return to winning ways following a recent barren patch that has led to Hearts slipping to third in the league, three points adrift of leaders Celtic.

“Apart from the last five games we’ve managed to score quite a few goals so we need to get that little monkey off our back," he said. “We’re not going to get too down. It’s up to us to put things right and back at home we have a good record at Tynecastle.

“It’s a big game, at home, on the telly, a full house against the Old Firm - it’s massive and the atmosphere will be red hot. And it’s down to us to make sure we create that atmosphere in the stadium. That’s by being energetic and doing the things we’ve done well in the past at Tynecastle.”