HE may have just signed for Partick Thistle, but Graeme Smith has warned Jackie McNamara that he is ready to be thrown in at the deep end tonight.
Having moved to the top of the Irn-Bru First Division with their win over Dunfermline last weekend, the Jags face Hamilton Accies this evening as they bid to keep up their impressive form.
The only blip last Saturday was an injury to keeper Scott Fox who is expected to be sidelined for up to eight weeks with a torn thigh muscle.
Smith has been signed as cover and, while he has been without a club since the summer, he has insisted that he is fit and ready to go.
The former Rangers, Hibs and Motherwell keeper endured an "eye-opening" year in Azerbaijan but is now looking forward to making the most of the platform he now has.
He will be with the Firhill side until the end of January and he is desperate to use the opportunity to help Thistle with their promotion bid as well as putting himself in the shop window.
"I trained with Kilmarnock and I trained with Dunfermline when I came back so I have kept myself in decent shape," said the 29-year-old.
"Over the last month I might not have done the work I normally would have, but although I am not as fit as I would like to be by my own standards, I am still in decent shape.
"I've been in professional football for over 10 years and I can use all my experience to get me through the game against Hamilton.
"Once we've dealt with that then I can concentrate on getting on to the training round and working on my basic level of fitness."
The reason for Smith's slip in fitness lies in the fact that he has spent the last two months at the bedside of his infant son.
The tot was born with his oesophagus attached to his windpipe and couldn't feed. An operation has partly corrected the problem, but infection has now taken hold and the baby remains in intensive care.
It has been a gruelling time for Smith and his family, but the chance to earn a wage at Firhill has come at the right time.
SMITH said: "We still have to pay the bills. They don't stop coming whatever your circumstances.
"When this came up it was ideal because I am still close to the hospital and close to home which was so important.
"We have a four-year-old daughter too so it has been a bit of a juggling act for all of us."
Smith expects Fox to resume his place as first-choice keeper upon his return to fitness, but he is looking forward to the opportunity to play regular football and hopefully earn a deal, if not at Thistle then elsewhere.
"Scott has proved himself here, but it is up to me now if I can get the chance to show what I can do," said Smith, who made over 100 appearances at Motherwell over a four-year spell in Lanarkshire.
"At the minute it is just a short-term deal to get Thistle through the next couple of months and I'd like to think that I can do a job for them.
"It is a good platform for me and hopefully the move will be beneficial to both of us."
l Thistle's match packages are still on offer to Jags fans. A nine-game package guarantees a ticket for the Ramsdens Cup Final.