Connor Smith is St Johnstone’s fourth January recruit, having signed an 18-month contract.
Courier Sport looks at the 21-year-old’s career so far, speaking to a coach who has worked with him, to assess the type of player Saints are getting and where he will fit into the McDiarmid Park squad.
Smith’s early football education started off at the SFA’s performance school in Edinburgh, Broughton High School.
He made his first team debut with Hearts as a 16-year-old, away to Kilmarnock on the final day of the 2017/18 season.
Craig Levein was the manager then and when he gave Smith a start in his first derby – at Easter Road – nearly a year later.
Among his 11 first team appearances, was the 3-2 victory for Hearts over Saints at the last start of last season.
Smith is no stranger to a loan.
With Cowdenbeath, Arbroath, Cove Rangers, Queen’s Park and Hamilton Accies, he completed the full set of Scottish professional divisions.
The highlights were winning the Championship play-off final while at Queen’s Park (and beating his brother Callum’s Airdrie in doing so); and then scoring five goals in 15 appearances with Accies last season.
That earned him a new deal at Hearts but Steven Naismith didn’t envisage Smith getting regular game-time this season so he got a sixth and final loan, to the National League in England with Scunthorpe United.
The personal progression has continued, with Smith scoring six goals in 16 down south.
One of his team-mates was ex-Saint, Jacob Butterfield.
Smith has real youth international pedigree.
He has played 29 times for his country – from under-16 level through to the under-21s.
— Scottish FA (@ScottishFA) July 27, 2017
Whatever else he goes on to achieve in his career, Smith will always be able to say he beat England.
He set-up one of Scotland’s goals as the U16s won 2-0 in 2017 against the likes of Liverpool’s Fabio Carvalho and Chelsea’s Noni Madueke.
‘A very talented player’
Smith made a good impression on former Arbroath coach, Rab Douglas, who worked with him during a short, injury-interrupted, spell at Gayfield in 2020.
“You could see he was a very talented player when he was with us,” said Douglas.
“Connor can play off the striker, though the middle or out wide.
“It will be interesting to see the role Craig and Andy Kirk have in mind for him.
“He was a very good finisher in training for us so it hasn’t surprised me that he’s added goals to his game since he was with us.
“Connor’s loans have served him well and I can see him continuing that improvement with Saints.”