Saturday’s game against Peterhead was a bitter-sweet experience to say the least for Liam Smith.
The Dundee United defender made his long-awaited comeback after suffering a medial ligament injury against Motherwell in just the second league match of the season.
His recovery had taken longer than expected so the 24-year-old former Hearts and Ayr full-back was raring to go against Jim McInally’s League One outfit in the Betfred Cup.
However, Smith was unable to prevent United suffering a dismal defeat at Tannadice, losing to a solitary Steven Boyd goal.
Now, he is determined that the club’s cup campaign will get back on track against Barry Ferguson’s Lowland League side Kelty Hearts at Tannadice tonight.
Smith said: “I was delighted to be back out on the pitch after being injured for longer than expected.
“The injury happened in a tackle with David Turnbull during the Motherwell game.
“It just shot straight up my leg and I tore the medial ligament in my knee. It was supposed to be six weeks but it has gone on a bit longer.
“It was an eight-week lay-off but credit to the medical staff and the sports science staff as I am now feeling fit and ready to go straight back in.
“It was disappointing at the time but I am now delighted to be back and hopefully help the team out.
“But the overriding emotion after the Peterhead game is one of frustration at the performance and obviously the result in the end.”
Smith acknowledged that Kelty will have received a boost after seeing what the Blue Toon achieved but he insists the United players will produce a big response.
He added: “We now have to show the character that we can stand up and be counted.
“We need to put on a good performance and show that the Peterhead game was not the Dundee United that we should be.
“We should be at a higher level than that and that will be the aim going into Tuesday that we need to match Kelty for their endeavour.
“I am sure they will come here determined to get a result. We need to match that and more.”
To return to winning ways, the Tangerines will have to right the wrongs from Saturday’s performance with Smith not pulling his punches over where it went wrong.
He added: “We weren’t at it all over the pitch. Peterhead came here really up for the game as they should be.
“I think it is a given that we match that but I don’t think we did on the day.
“On top of that we weren’t as good as we can be in possession and we let ourselves down in that sense when we had the ball.
“Certainly the most frustrating thing is that they dominated the game in an attacking sense.
“When they didn’t have the ball they were after us, putting us under pressure and we didn’t replicate that when they had the ball.”