Scotland coach reacts to new Connor Smith contract and whether midfielder is ready for Hearts first-team

Signing Connor Smith to a new one-year deal was “good management” from Hearts, according to Scotland under-21 boss Scot Gemmill.

The 20-year-old put pen to paper on a contract extension earlier this week after his previous deal was set to expire in the summer.

Gemmill handed the midfielder his first cap at under-21 level earlier this year when Turkey defeated Scotland at Hampden Park and has included him in the squad again for the upcoming Euro 2023 qualifiers against Belgium and Denmark.

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Following Smith’s impressive performances on loan at Queen’s Park, who he helped gain promotion to the Scottish Championship, Gemmill believes it was only natural Hearts looked to give him another chance to prove himself at Tynecastle.

Connor Smith has been included in the Scotland under-21 squad to face Denmark and Belgium. Picture: SNS

“I’m not surprised. He’s been very influential for his loan club which is why we’ve selected him,” said Gemmill.

“It sounds like good management to secure your better young players and ensure they have the possibility to fight off interest from other clubs.”

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With Hearts seeking to increase the size of their squad ahead of next season due to their participation in European football, the opportunity could be there for Smith to make himself a regular member of the first-team. Gemmill, though, was less committal on the player’s chances.

“That remains to be seen in all honesty,” he responded.

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“He needs to see how he goes with us and I’m sure his club and Robbie will watch closely. Then he needs to do well in pre-season and show he can be trusted to play.

“He’ll hopefully get a chance to do that after such a strong season for his loan club. Then it’s up to him.”

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