LEWIS Smith has backed his fellow Hamilton academy graduate Jamie Hamilton to improve as a player as a result of difficult back-to-back matches against Celtic and Rangers.

Teenage defender Hamilton gave away a first-half penalty against Rangers in a William Hill Scottish Cup match at the FOY Stadium on Saturday.

The 17-year-old bundled over Ibrox striker Alfredo Morelos inside his own area and Scott Arfield put the visitors 1-0 in front after goalkeeper Luke Southwood had saved his spot kick.

Glasgow Times:

Steven Gerrard’s men went on to win the tie 4-1 and book their place in the competition’s quarter-finals thanks to three second-half goals.

Facing Morelos was tough for Hamilton, who had been sent off in the Ladbrokes Premiership match against Celtic six days earlier, to deal with.

But Smith, who scored his second goal of the season against Rangers, has no doubts that his contemporary, and striker Andy Winter, will learn greatly from the encounter.

“Andy and Jamie are two years younger than me, but they have been brilliant,” he said.

“Andy deserved his chance. I thought he did really well. He ran the channels and held the ball up really well. That was only his first start so credit to him. Jamie was good as well so credit to him too.

“Every game is a learning curve for them. He (Morelos) is one of the best strikers in the league so it is obviously going to be tough for him (Hamilton), but he will learn from it and hopefully kick on.”

Glasgow Times:

Smith, a Scotland Under-21 internationalist, has certainly progressed greatly as a result of receiving regular game time at Hamilton in the 2019/20 campaign.

His first-half goal against Rangers was just the highlight of another mature personal display from the promising 19-year-old.

“It is nice to score in any game, but it was obviously an important time to get the goal,” he said. “They had taken the lead and our heads were down a little bit. It gave us a bit of confidence.

“We could have been 2-1 up going into the second-half. We just didn’t take our chances. That was disappointing. We got punished for it in the end.

“This season I have played a lot more. It is just unfortunate that I got injured a wee bit before Christmas. Hopefully now I can use that goal to kick on and get back to the level I was at before the injury.”