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Derek McInnes praised his side after they secured a top six finish with a battling 1-1 draw against Hearts at Tynecastle, but admitted the rigours of this season may have taken their toll as Kyle Vassell could be scheduled in for surgery before the end of the campaign.

‘I thought he led the line brilliantly.’ McInnes said of his captain. ‘Particularly second half they were a bit unsure of how to deal with that physicality.’

‘He’s actually struggling a bit at the moment with a groin complaint that may need surgery.’

’We’re just trying to nurse him along, as well as one or two others at the moment, to the end of the season but it might need an operation.’

‘So he might have to come out of the firing line before the end of the season so we can get him ready for next season.’

Hearts took an early lead with just nine minutes on the clock through Kenneth Vargas.

Fresh from penning a 5-year contract at Tynecastle this week, the 21-year-old nodded home from close range after Lawrence Shankland had chipped a ball back across the penalty area.

It was far from one way traffic in the opening 45 minutes however, as Kilmarnock could’ve found themselves level on more than one occasion.

First Stuart Findlay saw his header sail wide from a free kick before Marley Watkins tested Zander Clark from close range on the stroke of half time.

Watkins did have his name on the scoresheet though when he equalised for the visitors after 66 minutes.

The Kilmarnock front man picked the ball up on the right hand side before bending a stunning effort beyond the palm of Zander Clark.

Hearts boss Steven Naismith praised goal scorer Vargas, insisting the Costa Rican forward is on an upward trajectory.

He said: ‘That’s why he’s signed. Probably one of the biggest areas he’ll improve in is his finishing.’

‘He can sometimes pick the wrong option or the wrong type of finish, but once that comes he’ll be some asset to us.’