Michael Smith believes Sean Clare’s first Hearts goal will give the Englishman a huge confidence jolt as he strives to find top form.
Clare’s classy finish decided Sunday’s Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against Livingston and earned Hearts a home draw against junior club Auchinleck Talbot.
Smith, who recently signed a new two-year contract extension at Tynecastle, hopes the midfielder can relax after opening his scoring account.
Still only 22, Clare joined Hearts on a three-year deal in September after leaving Sheffield Wednesday. He has struggled for consistency in 14 appearances so far but Smith expects him to take a big boost from Sunday.
“It will be massive for him. We know what type of player he is,” said the Northern Ireland defender. “He is a good player in training, it’s just he has not quite shown it in games. That goal will be massive for him. I think he will kick on and show everyone what he has got.”
Transferring training performances to matches has been difficult for Clare to date. “That happens when you are an attacking player and you have not scored in a while,” explained Smith.
“That goal will do him the world of good and boost his confidence. Hopefully he can kick on now and establish himself in the starting line-up.”
Clare’s strike secured a narrow 1-0 win against a Livingston team which beat Hearts 5-0 in December.
“Yes that’s one to forget, thanks for bringing it up,” smiled Smith. “We owed them one. It would have been nice to beat them 5-0 but I will take 1-0 all day long.”
Hearts supporters got their first look at new signing David Vanecek at the weekend and Smith also predicted a bright future for the Czech. “He is massive. With the attributes he has, he is going to be really good in this league.
“I think he will score a lot of goals. Hopefully if my crossing gets a little better I might get a few assists off him. From what he’s shown in training, I think he is going to be a bit hit.”