Michael Smith reveals the secret behind his centre-back success at Hearts

Youth experience is helping Tynecastle full-back as he fills in for injured colleagues
Michael Smith enjoys playing centre-back for HeartsMichael Smith enjoys playing centre-back for Hearts
Michael Smith enjoys playing centre-back for Hearts

Playing sweeper during childhood has helped Michael Smith make an exemplary job of deputising at centre-back for Hearts. He is expected to continue there at Livingston today.

Although predominantly a right-back, Smith is being used in central defence to offset ongoing injury issues at Tynecastle Park. He feels well prepared.

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“When I was playing for my boys’ club, I always played sweeper. I was too small – four foot nothing – so I couldn’t play anywhere else. Maybe it just comes from that, being back there and learning to read the game. Thankfully, I’m a bit taller now,” he smiled.

“I just let the bigger boys head it and I sweep in behind. I enjoy it, I read the game well and feel like I’m more part of the game when I’m in the middle. I can talk to my team-mates and keep them right. I feel like it’s a bigger role.”

He will encounter the in-form Livingston forward Lyndon Dykes if selected in central defence today. “He’s been playing well,” added Smith. “I saw his goal the other week against Celtic and he looks like a top player. Although I’ve no idea where I’ll be playing yet, if it’s centre-half then I’ll relish it.”