Gordon Smith relishing Wilson showdown

GORDON Smith's sudden promotion to the Hearts first team has deposited him in a variety of new situations, with one more set to come on Saturday when he is in line to make a first appearance at Ibrox.

While this promises to be another assault on the teenager's senses, there is likely to be at least one friendly face in the Rangers line-up. Danny Wilson has joined Smith in making the breakthrough at his club this season and has been something of a regular since Madjid Bougherra headed off on international duty.

Smith was handed a surprise debut back in August when he started in Hearts' 2-0 home win over Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League before being effectively placed in cold storage for four months. However, he returned to the first-team scene in the most exhilarating fashion in the first game of 2010. He is still being asked to re-live the half-volley he scored against Hibernian on his league debut just over two weeks ago on a daily basis. Friends of the striker were delighted to see the 19-year-old son of former Hearts forward 'Pogo' Smith make such an impact, and this group included Wilson. The Rangers centre-half was one of the first to send Smith a text of congratulations. The fact Wilson had himself performed that same afternoon in a 1-1 draw with Celtic meant his Scotland colleague appreciated the gesture all the more.

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"Myself and Danny were in the same Scotland squad from under-15s to under-17s and also 19s, so I know him very well," explained Smith. "He sent me a text to say 'Well done' on getting my goal in the derby. I think if I scored against him in Saturday that would be our friendship over, though.

"He (Wilson] has been thrown in too and he has done absolutely brilliantly," continued Smith. "I have not seen every game he has played, but I have read about him in the papers too. Along with (John] Fleck, they are both good players for Rangers and Scotland. I am not surprised they are doing so well." Unlike Wilson and Fleck, however, Smith is happy to stay and learn his trade at Hearts.

The Rangers duo are already stalling on new deals. Smith came from virtually nowhere to steal the show in the New Year derby at Easter Road, and the adulation he has had since then has been overwhelming.

"I had 40 texts on my phone when I came into the changing room, and loads on my Facebook page," he said. "It's especially good when it is against Hibs and you play for Hearts. I can't have asked for anything better than that."

But Smith has learned to keep his feet on the ground, while manager Csaba Laszlo has been careful not to risk burning out the youngster so early in his career. Although he started the following match at Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup, he was restricted to a substitute's appearance on Saturday against St Mirren. Whether or not he starts this weekend at the home of the champions, he believes he has already overcome the ultimate test of nerve. "Ibrox will be a hard place to go as well but for me Easter Road is bigger because it is local and I am from Edinburgh and support Hearts," he argued.

Scott Robinson, who started in the 1-0 win over St Mirren on Saturday, is also enjoying this perhaps unexpected opportunity to join the first team.

Still only 17, he is alarmingly near the age of those pupils at Colinton Primary school who were excited by the presence of two Hearts footballers yesterday. Smith and Robinson helped promote another Aegon Breakfast Club event, which is supported by the Tynecastle club.

"It's helping to have so many young players around," said Robinson. "You look around and see a lot of the young lads – it's like you are still in the youth team."

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Meanwhile, Hearts learned yesterday that David Templeton, who twisted an ankle in training on Tuesday, is likely to miss this weekend's clash. Ruben Palazuelos will also be absent due to suspension.