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Kerr Smith admits he left Dundee United as a boy – but he’s arrived at St Johnstone a man

The 19-year-old is ready for Scottish Premiership football again.

Kerr Smith is ready to make his St Johnstone debut.
Kerr Smith is ready to make his St Johnstone debut. Image: SNS.

Former Dundee United rising star, Kerr Smith, has put his two years away from Scottish football to good use.

And the on-loan Aston Villa defender is ready to show St Johnstone fans that the boy has become a man.

Smith is in contention to make his Saints debut against Ross County on Saturday.

And, with a scar still visible above his eye from a blow he took while playing with Villa before returning north, the 19-year-old believes he’s equipped for the physical demands the Premiership will throw at him.

“I was just a young boy at United,” said the former Scotland youth international.

Kerr Smith in action for Dundee United.
Kerr Smith in action for Dundee United. Image: SNS.

“But since going to Villa, they’ve developed me physically.

“I’ve been doing a lot of gym. I feel much older and more responsible. I think you’ll see a new me.

“I’ve had a good season – played a lot of games.

“The right thing for me was going out on loan now and getting experience playing men’s football.

“I’ve played EFL Trophy games and a lot of 21s matches.

“When you play against League One and League Two sides you meet big, physical strikers so it’s always going to be a test.

“In the EFL Trophy, I got my eye split open at Charlton. Eight stitches. That was three months ago.

“In the 21s league as well there are a lot of sharp young prospects. They are hard to play against but it’s helped me as a player.

“This is now ideal for me. It’s where I want to be. I used to play for United, I’ve got games in the Scottish Premiership.

“I’m comfortable. It’s back home, close to my family as well. I’m ready to kick on.”

Out-and-out centre-half

Smith switched between full-back and centre-half in his United days but the change in his body shape makes one of the spots in the Perth back three best-suited to him now.

“I was still young at United so it’s hard for a manager to throw a youngster in at centre-back,” he recalled.

“So right-back was the easiest way to get me in the team – I played there against Saints when I was up against Glenn Middleton.

“But now I feel like I’ve progressed into an out-and-out centre-back.

“I like stepping in with the ball.

“I think on the wide of a three would suit me, on either side.”

Kerr Smith in action against Hearts.
Kerr Smith in action against Hearts. Image: SNS.

Saints have the incentive of opening up a five-point gap on Ross County.

“It’s a big game,” said Smith.

“The team is in a good place. We’ve brought in some good signings.

“We can kick on. I’ve got really experienced players next to me to look up to. It will be good for me to take things off them.”

He also keeps good company on the Villa training ground.

“All the centre backs are world class,” said Smith. “You’ve got Konsa and Mings. They are real role models to look up to.

“When I get the chance to train with them, I always take in what they’re saying.

“I’ve had a few sessions with them.

“When you do go up there, you’ve got to be on it. There are no hiding places.

“You’ve got Ollie Watkins and Moussa Diaby as strikers. It’s always a challenge when you train against those boys.

“But that’s the level that I want to get to.”

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