Smith and Hamilton call-ups give Accies a lift, says Rice

Hamilton boss Brian Rice says international recognition for Lewis Smith and Jamie Hamilton is a huge boost for the club.

Accies midfielder Smith received his first call-up to the Scotland Under-21 squad for their forthcoming European Championship qualifiers with San Marino and Croatia.

And 17-year-old defender Hamilton has been selected for the first time by Billy Stark for Scotland Under-19s after making his first-team debut in the extra-time Betfred Cup defeat to Kilmarnock.

Rice believes the call-ups are a reward for the hard work Accies coaching staff have put in to develop the young players and bring them into the first team.

Rice said: “I keep saying to the players, it’s OK people talking about you but you have to go out and perform regularly.

“I know what these two lads can give to the team and the club.

“Jamie is a very young lad, he’s only played one game, but he’s been about the place and trained with the first team for long enough to know what’s required when he goes in. We saw that last week, he wasn’t fazed by it.

“Lewis is a special talent. He gets me on the edge of my seat when he gets the ball. I’m looking for him to kick on now, he’s shown he can score goals and create goals. I’m looking to try to get more from him.

“The call-ups give everyone a lift. The people behind the scenes that do all the work, they nurture and coach the players and then I try to help them make the next step.

“It’s brilliant for everyone they’re getting international recognition. They only get that because of their performances on the pitch, so it’s great credit to the lads for going into the environment of the Premiership and not looking out of place and doing very well.”

Hamilton face Motherwell in the Lanarkshire derby this Saturday and Rice believes it is the perfect game to follow their Betfred Cup exit.

He said: “The derby is great. After the disappointment of getting beat in extra time, I mentioned to the players we’ve got a derby game to look forward to.

“I take every game on its merits. For me, you get three points for winning any game.

“It’s different for the fans, I understand that. The players feel differently from me, I can sense that with it being a derby match. They’re looking forward to it and I’m looking forward to it.

“Maybe the performance on Saturday gave them a wee gee up. Their spirits are good, I don’t need to lift anyone.”

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