RAITH Rovers manager Gary Locke has thanked former club Hearts after pulling off the surprise loan signing of full-back Liam Smith.
Smith penned a month-long deal in time to star in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Dumbarton in place of injured skipper Jason Thomson.
Thomson’s knee problem left Rovers without a recognised right-back but Smith, who began the season starting in three of Hearts’ four Europa League outings, came to the rescue with an accomplished display just 24 hours after agreeing to the switch.
Locke had already exhausted his budget but was thrilled when Hearts, the club he served as captain and manager, helped out.
He said: “I didn’t half pull a rabbit out of the hat by getting Liam in! I thought he was excellent and probably our best player on the day.
“You can see he’s a top player and why he’s played so many games in the Hearts first-team, and we’re thankful to Hearts for giving us him for the month.
“They want him to get out and play games and to get a right-back of that quality is fantastic for us. Hopefully he’ll do well in the month he’s here.
“He’s got a lot of quality and he’s a very level-headed boy, and I don’t think much will faze him.
“Jason’s a huge loss but you could see on Saturday the quality that Liam’s got and I was delighted with his performance.”
Raith’s win over Dumbarton arrested a three-match losing streak and left them just four points adrift of Championship leaders Queen of the South.
However, the victory came against the backdrop of on-going fitness worries, with striker Lewis Vaughan and midfielder Joel Coustrain also ruled out at the weekend with fresh injuries.
Locke, whose side face Morton away this weekend, added: “Lewis had a thigh problem and Joel pulled out on Friday with a groin problem, so we’ve certainly not got our troubles to seek in that department.
“It would be great if I could get everybody fit and available because I feel if I could get that then we’ve got a decent squad.
“But, at the moment, unfortunately we seem to be getting two back and two out.”