Getting changed into your club tracksuit in a hospital toilet and munching down cold pasta is hardly the ideal pre-match preparation.
However, for Hearts defender Michael Smith, it was all part of a memorable and frantic Friday after his wife gave birth seven hours before the Betfred Cup penalties victory over Dundee United.
Smith and Emma celebrated the arrival of their baby girl, Blake, at 12:35pm at St John’s hospital in Livingston but that did not stop the Northern Ireland international from producing a composed performance in the 1-1 draw, which included sticking away his spot-kick with aplomb.
That was despite being torn over whether he should leave his wife’s bedside. Smith, who already has a son, said: “It was a fantastic day. Adrenalin got me through the game and I was over the moon with the arrival of my little girl.
“It was a planned Section so we knew it was going to happen on Friday the 12th, the gaffer [Craig Levein] knew and everyone knew and they were all happy enough for me to go and spend the day in the hospital and make the game at night. Luckily I got here and played particularly well.
“I had my tracksuit in the bag and got changed in the toilet at the hospital and I had made pasta the night before so it was all planned.
“At one stage, I did have Austin MacPhee’s [Hearts number two] number ready to ring because she wasn’t recovering as quickly as we thought she would, so I was close to ringing Austin to say I couldn’t make it but Emma said I had to go, so I jumped into my tracksuit and got into the car.”
Smith, who signed a new contract until May 2021 in January, admits life could not be better on and off the pitch. Speaking ahead of this evening’s Group A clash at Cowdenbeath, he added: “I’m enjoying my time and we enjoy Edinburgh. I love the club and everything is really suiting me.”
Smith, meanwhile, believes fellow Northern Ireland cap Conor Washington will become a fans’ favourite after the striker put in a tireless shift on his debut in the 1-1 draw with United last Friday.
Washington joined from Sheffield United last month on a two-year deal. Smith added: “I think he’ll be a real hit. He works his socks off makes good runs in behind. He’s smart and he’s a good finisher so he’ll hit the ground running. He gives us a different dimension. If you’re playing one up top and its Uche [Ikpeazu], you’ve got to hit the big man and hopefully he holds it in.
“With Uche and Conor we’ve got the two options and I think they’ll work really well together. I played with Conor at Peterborough for a couple of years and he was absolutely on fire for the first six months of the season up until Christmas. He got his move to QPR from that. He hasn’t recaptured that form because he hasn’t really played regularly since. If he can recapture that he’ll be banging the goals in.”
Levein, meanwhile, fears midfielder Peter Haring, pictured, is facing another two months on the sidelines due to persistent pain in his groin area. The Austrian missed pre-season because of the issue and is due to see another specialist for a second opinion in the coming days.
Haring underwent double hernia surgery in January and returned to action in late February but then sat out the six weeks before the Scottish Cup final defeat to Celtic.
Levein is hoping complete rest will cure the problem but expects the 26-year-old to be absent for a lengthy spell. He said: “This area’s difficult to diagnose at times. We’ve got one opinion and we’ll get the other one this week, then we’ll go from there.
“I think no matter what it is, it’s a couple of months anyway. That’s the reality. We don’t know if he’ll need an operation. The first opinion basically says there’s still inflammation in the area where the pelvis meets the femur. There’s lots of things going on there.”
Levein is still looking to recruit another midfielder but insists he will take his time weighing up options, despite Haring’s problem, Arnaud Djoum’s decision to sign for Saudi outfit Al-Raed and Olly Lee’s impending departure.
He added: “I would have been looking for another midfielder anyway because Arnaud’s left and I’ve spoken to Olly Lee and he wants to go back down the road.
“I have a number of people I’m looking at – four of them I think we’d be interested in – but I’m not in a hurry because I feel we’ve got adequate cover at the moment but that can all change with a poor result.”