Dundee United goalscorer Cammy Smith has revealed how lockdown has helped get him ready to push for his place in the Premiership.
Smith took less than a minute to hit the target for the top-flight newcomers as the Tangerines drew 1-1 in their final pre-season friendly against Kilmarnock behind closed doors at Tannadice on Saturday.
A high press from Micky Mellon’s men pressurised Killie’s trialist goalkeeper and his mishit clearance landed at the feet of United striker Lawrence Shankland.
The Scotland star picked out Smith on the edge of the area and he dashed into the box before sliding the ball into the net.
It was certainly a loud and clear message to new boss Mellon that Smith wants to be more heavily involved this time than he was under previous gaffer Robbie Neilson.
Indeed, his 12th and final appearance for United last season was away to Queen of the South on January 4 and he was subsequently sent out to Irish club Dundalk on loan.
Smith revealed that, while the coronavirus shutdown has been a dreadful experience for Scottish football overall, he has made the most of it.
“Lockdown has probably helped me,” he told the club’s Arabzone.
“I used it in the right way.
“When I was at home I used the time to get fitter and clear the head, really.
“Last season was tough and I was sent out on loan.
“It wasn’t easy but even when the previous manager (Neilson) was still here I came back and got stuck right back into training.
“It was a shock when he left but the new manager has come in and been really good with the boys.
“He has spoken well and he has that way about him that has gotten the players onside.
“You don’t want to go out there and let him or your teammates down.
“Since he has come in the tempo has gone up. We weren’t really training at that pace.
“The games (in training) have been competitive and there has been tackling, with boys coming off with knocks and stuff like that.
“It has been realistic.
“That is what happens on a Saturday so that’s what you need.
“If you do that during the week in training then come the weekend there are no surprises.
“It is early days, obviously, but I aim to keep focused and be pushing on so that I can be part of things here.”
Killie eventually recovered from that early blow to equalise through a Greg Kiltie deflected goal just a minute into the second half.
It was the newly-promoted Tangerines’ fourth friendly against Premiership sides, following on from fixtures against Motherwell, Livingston and Rangers.
Smith added: “It was a good exercise for us.
“We have had three very competitive games close together.
“I think the past week has been tough for the boys: Livingston, Rangers and then Kilmarnock.
“It is all geared towards next Saturday and I think the players and management have gotten everything they wanted out of it.
“It has been a difficult pre-season, obviously, with what has been going on but it’s been very good because we have gotten the work done that we needed to get done.
“The games have also been very competitive.
“They haven’t had that friendly feel to them.
“Even this one – it felt like a competitive game.
“It has given us a right good look at Premiership opposition.
“We have seen what we will be up against and we know ourselves that we can compete.”
Next up is the real deal – the curtain-raiser against St Johnstone at Tannadice this Saturday.
Smith said: “We are going into the new season in the right frame of mind and looking forward to it.
“We just can’t wait to get going.
“We will now recover and have a full week’s training to build up to St Johnstone on Saturday.
“There is a lot more to come from us so we need to focus and be ready.
“Going into that match, everyone will be fighting to get into the team.
“There will be that competitive edge.
“If you do get a chance to impress then you have to take it because there are plenty of players here who are hungry to get in. That is a good thing.”
United’s starting line-up was: Siegrist, L Smith, Powers, Connolly, Pawlett, C Smith, Robson, Butcher, Harkes, Shankland, Mochrie.