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Brian Rice backs youngster Lewis Smith to break into first team

Brian Rice backs youngster Lewis Smith to break into first team
© Reuters
The 19-year-old scored in the Betfred Cup win over Clyde.

Brian Rice insists he is ready to make teenager Lewis Smith part of his Hamilton line-up this season.

The 19-year-old marked his first Accies start with a maiden senior goal as Rice's side claimed a 3-1 Betfred Cup win over Clyde on Wednesday.

And the Hamilton boss believes the Scotland Under-17 cap is good enough to make himself a regular fixture in his first-team.

He said: "I can't believe it's the first time he has started a senior game. I thought he must have started one before looking at the way he played against Clyde.

"But it was his full debut and what a way to start for the boy with a goal. It will be one he will always remember.

"Lewis Smith is good enough to be anything he wants to be. I'd have no qualms about playing Lewis against anyone – but he needs to be ready for it physically and mentally.

"I know the talent Lewis has got. Everybody at the club can see it.

"He is good on the ball and can take people on. I've been at him all the time to make sure he gives us an end product. The last thing he does with the ball is the most important.

"Last night he took that on board. He had four or five efforts on goal and thoroughly deserved the one he scored.

"Now it's down to him to keep working hard and improve on the other side of the game when we don't have the ball.

"However, he's a really intelligent kid and takes things on board. The ball is in his court now.

"I open the door for the kids to come into the team and they need to take it. He took it last night but needs to do it again if selected against Partick Thistle on Saturday."

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A general shot of a Premier League football ahead of the Premier League clash between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on October 30, 2016
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