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Hearts reaping benefit of unusual training methods, maintains Smith



Looking up: Michael Smith says Hearts have raised game

Looking up: Michael Smith says Hearts have raised game

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Looking up: Michael Smith says Hearts have raised game

Michael Smith believes Hearts boss Daniel Stendel has had the last laugh over his unusual training methods.

The German raised eyebrows last week when he handed out goggles and ropes to his team as they prepared for the clash with Rangers.

Stendel hoped the use of the ski shades would help his defenders work on their peripheral vision.

He also staged another drill which involved tying his backline together with rope to encourage them to work as a solid unit.

The bizarre routines were ridiculed by some but Northern Ireland full-back Smith insists Stendel is not the first boss to try something out of the norm.

And the 31-year-old former Ballymena United man reckons there has already been evidence that Stendel's ploy has had a positive impact after the Gorgie side followed up their William Hill Scottish Cup win over Rangers with Tuesday's Edinburgh derby triumph at Easter Road.

He said: "I didn't wear the goggles, my eyesight is bad enough without them, but I've seen these kind of things done plenty of times before. If you're conceding goals you want to get the shape of the back four right and the distances between you.

"It was only a little short exercise with the ropes to get you used to the movements and everyone moving together.

"I've seen it happen before. Plenty of clubs do it and I've spoken to players, it's nothing.

"Have I seen the goggles used before? Nah, the gaffer has got different ways of doing things.

"It was a great laugh at the time. It was the centre-halves who were wearing them and it was so funny because Clevid Dikamona missed the ball at one point. But it's worked. We've done really well the last two games so if (the manager) wants to take the credit he can."

Hearts handed Stendel his first set of back-to-back wins as they stunned Hibernian with a 3-0 triumph and climbed off bottom spot. But the delight over that derby success was tempered 24 hours later when Hamilton dumped the Jambos back down to the basement by beating Rangers at Ibrox.

"That was disappointing from our point of view," admitted Smith, whose side host third-placed Motherwell tomorrow.

"Rangers are struggling a little bit but I hoped they would do us a turn.

"Fair play to Hamilton. They are definitely up for the fight, as are we, so it's going to be interesting.

"We've definitely upped our form and our fight of late so that bodes well for the future.

"No one wants to get relegated and it's probably in everyone's heads that we have to do a little bit extra."

Belfast Telegraph