GORDON SMITH today claimed he wasn’t given a proper chance to establish himself at Hearts as he prepares to drop into the First Division to revitalise his career. The 22-year-old striker is now a free agent after the Edinburgh club decided not to offer him a new contract.
In an exclusive Evening News interview, Smith bemoaned a lack of opportunities at Tynecastle in the last two years. He started just six matches during that period and was frequently left on the substitutes’ bench or in the stand.
A run of four consecutive starts in December last year suggested he may have turned a corner, but it proved a false dawn. Despite showing initial promise after arriving from Livingston in 2009, the player’s time at Hearts petered out frustratingly.
“I’m disappointed at how the last two years went for me. I’ve not really had a good run in the team,” he said. “It’s been frustrating sitting on the bench when I feel I could be in the team. I got a run of four games in December last year and the team did well by getting a couple of wins and a draw. I thought I did well personally, I just lacked that goal that maybe would have spurred me on to do even better.
“I was disappointed when I was dropped for the Hibs game (in early January). Before that game, John McGlynn (then manager) pulled me in and told me he was changing the team. He said he was changing the formation and going with just one up front. John Sutton is more experienced so he went with John and I was back on the bench.
“I was gutted to be honest. I thought I’d every chance of playing because the team had been doing well but I didn’t say that much about it. Then there was the three-week break and our next game was Celtic. I knew we weren’t going to play two up front at Parkhead so that was it after that. John got sacked and I haven’t had a run in the team since then.”
Smith admitted he didn’t deserve a new contract because he hadn’t had enough opportunities to prove himself. “I’ve only started four games, that’s not enough.
“There’s not much I can do in four games to merit a new contract. I always tried to give my best in training to prove I was worthy of a new deal but it wasn’t to be and I’m moving on.
“The plan is to find a club where I’m going to play regularly and score goals. When I went on loan to Stirling Albion a couple of years ago I did that and I improved a lot as a player because I was playing every week. I want to establish myself with a club that is challenging for things and score as many goals as I can.
“I’ve not made a decision, I’ve spoken to a few clubs and I want to play at as high a level as I can. I know that, if I do well, I’ll be back in the SPL in no time. I just need the chance to show it.”
Hearts have continued restructuring with the departure of assistant manager Edgaras Jankauskas and non-executive director Julija Goncaruk. Jankauskas arrived last year to assist McGlynn, whilst
Goncaruk has been on the board since 2005.
“Tynecastle is a special place and I will always retain fond memories of the stadium and particularly the supporters,” said Jankauskas, who played for Hearts between 2005 and 2007. “They have been phenomenal this season and I’m only disappointed that we didn’t have a better campaign for them. I have enjoyed my time here and I’m sure it will prove of great benefit as I look to continue my career off the park.”