Hearts defender Michael Smith gets payback from Conor Washington

Striker Conor Washington, right, vies with Motherwell's Declan Gallagher during a morale-boosting win for Hearts. Picture: SNS.
Striker Conor Washington, right, vies with Motherwell's Declan Gallagher during a morale-boosting win for Hearts. Picture: SNS.
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Michael Smith believes Hearts team-mate Conor Washington owed him an assist against Motherwell because he helped secure the striker’s big-money move to Queens Park Rangers.

The Northern Ireland pair came up trumps for Hearts by scoring both goals in Friday night’s 2-1 win at Fir Park to secure a Betfred Cup quarter-final tie against 
Aberdeen.

Full-back Smith opened the scoring with a rasping drive into the corner after Washington switched play out to the flank, where his compatriot was splashing down the wing on a sodden night in north Lanarkshire.

It was a reversal of the roles in which Smith set up several goals for Washington when the pair were at Peterborough United together.

Smith, pictured, claims he was the reason Washington ended up gaining a big-money moved to QPR, 
in January 2016. That didn’t work out as planned and the striker is now at Hearts following the expiry of a one-year deal at Sheffield United. He scored his first goal for the club from a penalty on Friday only minutes after Smith struck.

“Conor’s a tremendous signing – I genuinely didn’t think we could bring him up here and that someone down south would have snapped him up,” said Smith.

“But I had a few words in his ear, he decided to come and after Friday’s goal I think the floodgates will open for him. He also played me in for my goal – and it was about time, because I made about 11 or 12 for him when we were at Peterborough and got him a £3 million move to QPR!

“I don’t get many, but when I do they generally turn out to be half-decent,” added Smith, who has struck three times for Hearts since joining two seasons ago.

He fought a bout of tonsillitis to help Craig Levein’s side collect a morale-boosting victory against Motherwell prior to this weekend’s trip to Celtic Park.

“I woke up on Friday morning feeling not so great, a bit of tonsillitis, but nothing that a few painkillers couldn’t sort out,” he added.

“If anything I was just a bit lethargic on the night, so I’m glad to have got through it and even happier to have scored. The gaffer’s given me a few days off now, so I’m delighted with that.

“We owed a lot of people that performance – fans, staff even ourselves, because we just hadn’t been good enough at the weekend [against Ross County].

“We felt embarrassed and we had a few choice words among ourselves afterwards. These things happen at football clubs and sometimes they’re not a bad thing.

“It was good to go out at Motherwell, play some nice football and get into the quarter-finals. It certainly makes you forget about being a wee bit ill.”