Smith hopes he can step back into the limelight at Hearts

SINCE finding himself the centre of attention after scoring a dream debut goal in the Capital derby at the beginning of the month, things have gone a tad flat for Hearts striker Gordon Smith.

The 18-year-old also started the following game against Aberdeen in the Active Nation Scottish Cup but has been on the bench for the Gorgie club's last two SPL matches – against St Mirren and Rangers. He was disappointed that he didn't get on in the 1-1 draw at Ibrox last Saturday but, with Christian Nade out through suspension as a result of his sending-off in Govan, Smith is keeping his fingers crossed he'll be back on the front line when Hearts entertain Aberdeen at Tynecastle tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).

"I started against Hibs and Aberdeen, which was great, then got on for 15 minutes against St Mirren," said Smith.

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"I never got on against Rangers and I was quite disappointed about that but I accept the manager's decision. Now I can hopefully get on against Aberdeen at some point. If I can play a part in that game, then hopefully I can help the team.

"Myself and Scott Robinson played up front in the Scottish Cup tie up at Aberdeen but didn't get many chances that day but maybe we'll get an opportunity to try again. We like playing up front together and we have a good understanding.

"Scoring at Easter Road was good but doing it in front of our own fans would be even better. I've not started at Tynecastle yet and would love to do that. I don't know if it will be against Aberdeen – it will be down to the manager."

It would be pushing things to say it's been 'Tynecastle for thrills' so far this season. In their ten home SPL games to date, Hearts have notched up a meagre nine goals but, according to Smith, Laszlo and the players won't mind in the slightest if they have to grind out another low-scoring win over Aberdeen, having beaten both Motherwell and St Mirren 1-0 in the last two outings on home soil.

"It is nice to win 3-0 or 4-0 but the manager won't be worried that we are winning games 1-0 at Tynecastle," he said. "Indeed, I'm pretty sure that everyone in the dressing-room would take another 1-0 in this game.

"I thought we played well enough in the first half of the cup game up at Aberdeen but in the first 20 minutes of the second half we let things slip a bit and lost a goal. In the end, I don't think we deserved to lose 2-0 that day."

Smith became an instant hero with the Hearts fans when he opened the scoring at Easter Road in a game that ended in a draw and admits he enjoyed the raft of publicity he got over the next couple of days.

However, the youngster's feet are firmly back on the ground again and his footballing education continued on Saturday when he stood in the away dressing-room at Ibrox and listened to Csaba Laszlo have a good old rant after Hearts had conceded a late equaliser after Robinson had fired them ahead shortly after Nade had been dismissed for a second yellow card.

"I wouldn't exactly say my life has changed as a result of that goal in the derby," he added. "A few people have come up to me and said, 'well done, good going' etc and I certainly had a lot of attention from the newspapers the next again day – but since then I've just been getting on with things as normal.

"It is important that we keep picking up points, especially at home, and hopefully I can play a part in helping the team to keep climbing up the table.

"Rangers have been doing well recently so to go to Ibrox and get a point was brilliant. However, the way the game went we were definitely a bit disappointed that we didn't come away with the three points.

"It was concentration at the end of the game that cost us the equaliser. It should have been a case of just trying to see out the game, especially when we were down to ten men.

"The manager had a few strong words for the team and he was really angry about losing the goal the way we did but, at the same time, he also said he was happy with the performance. If we're in that situation again, we won't make the same mistake because he (Laszlo] has come across strongly and made his feelings known.

"We can't keep getting players sent off, especially as we have a few injuries as well.

"If players keep getting suspended it is going to make things harder for us.

"The other side of the coin is that it shows we've got fight. But sometimes it is stupidity that's getting players sent off and we certainly have to try and channel our aggression a bit better.

"We have a fairly young squad and it is all about learning. Players like myself will learn from what happened at Ibrox, even though I wasn't on the pitch."

Ryan Wallace became the latest Hearts youngster to get his SPL chance when he came on as a substitute at Ibrox and Smith says you only need to look around most of the other clubs, including Celtic and Rangers, to see that kids are getting opportunities in the top flight at the moment.

"The fact myself and others have been involved in recent weeks shows the boys in the undert-19s that if they are good enough there is going to be a chance for them in the first team," he said. "All the boys who've come in have done well.

"Myself and Scott, for instance, have both scored goals in important games.

"Aberdeen are also bringing through youngsters – the likes of Fraser Fyvie and Peter Pawlett, for example – and there's no doubt that players like that are getting a chance in the SPL at the moment. Motherwell have youngsters in their team, as do Rangers, and Celtic had a few in their team when they won at St Johnstone last Sunday."

Smith, whose dad, also Gordon, played for Hearts as well, is delighted he's going to be joined at Tynecastle next season by Darren Barr, the Falkirk captain having signed a pre-contract after picking Hearts ahead of Hibs, Aberdeen and Dundee among others.

"By all accounts, Darren is a good player. He has also played for Scotland and having someone like him arrive at the club can only help the team. We've got good defenders already and competition for places can only be a good thing," he said.

"I read in the paper that Hibs were also after him and it is encouraging that he must see that there is a good young team growing at Hearts and one that can do well in the future."

DON'T EXPECT A TYNECASTLE GOALFEST ..

HEARTS fans have been starved of goal action this term with a total of just 15 strikes in league matches at Tynecastle. That works out at an average of 1.5 goals per game.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen's nine away matches have produced a total of just 14 goals.

Hearts' home SPL results so far:

August 23, 2009: Hearts 1, Rangers 2

September 15, 2009: Hearts 1, Kilmarnock 0

September 26: Hearts 2, Hamilton 1

October 24, 2009: Hearts 0, Falkirk 0

November 7, 2009: Hearts 0, Hibs 0

November 21, 2009: Hearts 1, St Johnstone 2

December 12, 2009: Hearts 0, Dundee United 0

December 20, 2009: Hearts 2, Celtic 1

December 30, 2009: Hearts 1, Motherwell 0

January 16, 2010: Hearts 1, St Mirren 0