Gary Locke says David Smith can be key player

David Smith (SNS)
David Smith (SNS)
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DAVID SMITH can become a key player for Hearts in the second half of the season if he can replicate his performance in last night’s Edinburgh derby.

That was the message today from manager Gary Locke after Smith’s part in Hearts’ equaliser at Easter Road.

Liam Craig’s penalty won the game for Hibs after James Collins’ opening goal, but Locke left Easter Road encouraged by Smith’s performance. The 20-year-old emerged from the substitutes’ bench to deliver possibly his best display in a maroon shirt.

His mesmerising run past Scott Robertson and Michael Nelson brought Hearts an equaliser on 72 minutes. The Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams spilled Smith’s shot and the winger prodded the rebound towards the net where it was deflected in by the hapless Ryan McGivern.

Locke has now thrown down a challenge to Smith and demanded that he produce last night’s form more often. “It’s important he tries to find that form and confidence on a consistent basis. If he can do that, he’ll be a big player for us,” said Locke. “The thing we’re asking from David now is to try and produce that over 90 minutes. He’s done really well when he’s come off the bench and been really positive, but he hasn’t quite shown that when he’s started games.

“He’s always had an impact one way or another when he’s come on. He’s capable of beating people and capable of getting goals. That’s what we’re hoping he does between now and the end of the season.”

Smith is now likely to start Hearts’ match against Partick Thistle at Tynecastle on Sunday. However, experienced midfielder Jamie Hamill will not feature. He is to serve a one-match suspension after accumulating six bookings.