Thursday, February 22, 2024
SportHeartsHearts star Smith eyes Scottish Cup triumph following "painful" 2020 penalty defeat

Hearts star Smith eyes Scottish Cup triumph following “painful” 2020 penalty defeat

HEARTS star Michael Smith is eyeing a Scottish Cup triumph following the Edinburgh side’s “painful” 2020 defeat to Celtic in a penalty shootout.

Fans will be delighted to welcome the defender back into their matchday squad ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie against Livingston.

The right back has missed the last four matches after suffering a back spasm against Celtic last month.

Now though, Smith is ready to return alongside fellow defender Nathaniel Atkinson, who missed the midweek match through illness.

Michael Smith at press conference.
Right back Michael Smith has said the club “demands trophies”.                                                                    (C) Hearts TV

Smith’s presence was missed on Sunday as Hearts were blown away by Rangers in a 5-0 drubbing, before failing to bounce back in a 2-1 defeat to Dundee at Tynecastle on Wednesday.

The Northern Irishman admits that previous Scottish Cup Final defeats to Celtic will only inspire Hearts to go one better this year.

Speaking at today’s press conference, he said: “It’s still pretty painful.”

“We were close last time going to penalties. It only gives you the experience to go out and do better next time.

“I’ve said it before, at a club like this we demand trophies. As players and staff, we demand it ourselves. We want to pick up some silverware.

“Coming up from last year, if we finish third it’ll be a great achievement, but at the same time the Scottish Cup is the one we want to be lifting as well because we’ve missed out narrowly in the past few years.”

Speaking on his injury, Smith added: “The back is a lot better, I had treatment for it and trained the last few days so I’m available.

“I’ve had a back problem for probably the last eight years and every couple of years it flares up and I need a steroid injection to settle it down.

“It’s been a difficult two games for us.”

“I thought first half at Ibrox we were all right, but we had that 20-minute spell where we collapsed a bit.

“The other night against Dundee, I thought we dominated the first half and couldn’t put it to bed. They got chances and it came back to bite us that we didn’t kill the game off.”

It’s currently one win in five matches for Hearts and although they remain ten points clear in third, they were booed off the field by their supporters on Wednesday.

Smith puts the poor run of form down to injuries in the backline and insists there’s no reason to overreact.

He said: “I think there has been a lot of change. I thought in the first half of the season it was a pretty stable three, five at the back.

“Soapy [John Souttar] was out injured, Halks [Craig Halkett] has been out, and I’ve been out, so we’ve had to chop and change, and I think it’s unsettled us a bit.

“We don’t have to reset anything. We’re sitting third in the league, ten points clear, so we don’t have to have a crisis meeting about anything.

“We just have to get back to what we’ve been good at in the first half of the season.”

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