Gary Mackay: Michael Smith makes such a big difference for Hearts - but I'm not sure about centre-back in the long run

There was undoubtedly a more composed and dependable element to our defensive play against Dunfermline.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 12:00 pm
Michael Smith impressed for Hearts against Dunfermline.

It was a good to see Shay Logan make his debut for the club and I thought his performance was absolutely fine considering he’s been brought into the fold at such late notice.

As far as being part of a squad, Logan is more than good enough to be at Hearts. He is somebody I always admired at Aberdeen in terms of work-rate and quality and he gives you an alternative to Michael Smith, who can then move into a different position.

If we do sign him for longer than this season, then it does allow Robbie Neilson a little more flexibility with what he can do with his options. Logan has a lot of experience in the Premiership and would allow Michael Smith to be used in different positions.

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We have John Souttar coming back and we have clarity over the Christophe Berra situation after his departure was announced last week, so we're allowing ourselves to look forward to next season.

Michael Smith's versatility and aptitude at centre-half is very important to us. You know you can hang your hat on him. However, could he play centre-back in back-four in the Premiership? That's something I would reserve judgement on, purely because slotting a full-back in there in a league with better quality forwards is more of a challenge.

Perhaps with Craig Halkett next to him, as a defender who attacks the ball and Smith can mop up behind, that would work. If he was next to John Souttar in back-four, who is more of a ball-playing centre-half, then I'm not sure. In a back three, he would be more comfortable, or even play as the spare man in the three, but it depends how we set up. He is certainly a player who brings calmness and composure to our defence, something that we clearly lacked against Brora and Queens.

One thing is for sure is that we have a really dependable, solid option in Michael there and we can utilise him in more than one place.

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