First Team

Smith sees squad strength

22nd January 2019

Michael Smith was impressed with Hearts’ new recruits on Sunday and believes the squad is only going to get stronger.

The Northern Ireland international lined up alongside Republic of Ireland U21 cap Conor Shaughnessy and kept a clean sheet against Livingston at the weekend as the Jambos progressed to the next round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

At the other end, new Czech striker David Vanececk put in a battling performance to lead the line against a physical Livi defence, while Sean Clare bagged his first goal in a maroon shirt.

Michael, who recently extended his contract to 2021, thinks both January signings have settled into life at Tynecastle pretty quickly, and once the club’s injured stars return the Jam Tarts will be a force to be reckoned with.

“I thought Conor was really good, great heading and a good range of passing, so it was easy to play alongside him,” he said. “David took a few whacks in the back early doors, and I think that woke him up a bit, but he had a brilliant second half. 

“David has all the attributes to be successful in Scottish football. He’ll score a lot of goals if my crosses improve! From what we’ve seen in training, he’ll be a big hit.

“The goal will do wonders for Sean’s confidence. We know the type of player he is, in training he shows his ability but maybe hasn’t translated to matches yet.

“Hopefully now, he can kick on and show what he’s got.

“When you’re an attacking player and you haven’t scored in a while, a goal can do a lot for boosting your confidence and so it’ll do him the world of good and help him establish himself in the first XI.

“When John Souttar and Uche Ikpeazu come back I think we’ll have a really strong squad.”