Disappointment for Raith Rovers as Scotland under-21 star Liam Smith returns to Hearts

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

LIAM SMITH has returned to Hearts after Raith Rovers failed in their bid to extend the promising defender’s loan deal.

The 20-year-old, who was named in Scot Gemmill’s Scotland under-21 squad this week, made two appearances for the Fifers before seeing his stint at Stark’s Park disrupted by a hamstring complaint.

Nevertheless, Rovers boss Gary Locke had been keen to extend the deal beyond its initial 28 days, with a view to deputising for skipper Jason Thomson, who is a long-term absentee with tendonitis in his knee.

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Smith, left, has already starred in the Europa League for Hearts this term

Locke had stated: “It would be great if we could extend his deal. He’s a Hearts player and they’ll make the decision. If Hearts see fit for him to go out and play games, then hopefully we can get him again.”

However, Raith have confirmed that Smith has now returned to Hearts, where he will battle Scotland internationalist Callum Paterson for a starting berth, after the club’s failed to come to an agreement.

Smith tweeted: “Thanks to @RaithRovers_FC for giving me the opportunity! Much appreciated and wish the boys all the best for the rest of the season.”

The youngster will go straight into contention for Hearts’ encounter against St Johnstone on Saturday, while Rovers are likely to field midfielder Iain Davidson at full-back for this weekend’s Fife derby against Dunfermline.

And Locke has nothing but praise for the way the former Dundee man has adapted to an unfamiliar role.

The Rovers boss said: “Davo has been a credit to himself and everyone at the club, with how hard he works.

“He has filled in at right-back but it is like he has been playing there for a very long time.

“We have had to chop and change our back four at times but I am delighted he is doing so well.”

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