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Smith back and aiming for big role
10:30am Thursday 31st October 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WHEN Sam Smith signed for Worcester City, he no doubt would have expected to have played a game before the end of October.
Brought in from Stourbridge during the summer, the 25-year-old centre-half was one of a raft of players City plucked from the lower leagues.
With little money to spend, unearthing talent with the potential to operate in non-league’s second tier was a crucial element of Worcester’s recruitment policy.
Smith certainly fitted the bill and, in the eyes of manager Carl Heeley and assistant Matt Gardiner, was the type of muscular defender they felt the team needed.
However, he suffered a knee injury during a warm-up match against Westfields in July and ended up having surgery to repair the damage.
Although he would have missed the first three games of the season through a suspension picked up with Stourbridge, Smith’s debut was put on ice.
With Graham Hutchison, Richard Munday and Shabir Khan also enjoying decent seasons in his position, getting in the team was by no means a certainty once he was fit.
But, following injuries to Munday and Khan, Smith finally got the opportunity to make his Worcester bow in Tuesday’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay at Lincoln City.
With the exception of playing an hour on loan at Stourport Swifts earlier this month, it was his first action since July.
He played three quarters of the match at Sincil Bank, which the Blue and Whites lost 3-0, but he is glad to be back on the pitch.
“It has been tough and it was frustrating to tear the cartilage two games before the season was about to start,” said Smith, who could feature against North Ferriby United at Aggborough this weekend.
“I haven’t had much luck with injuries, but that’s football.
“It has been tough getting back but I’ve worked hard and had the support and help from physios Ruddi and Lawson. They have put me through my paces and I thank them but hopefully now it’s just onwards and upwards.
“It was my first game and after 70 minutes I felt fine but I understood why the gaffer took me off. It was just a precaution, maybe for Saturday.
“Hopefully now I can build on the 70 minutes I’ve had and I’m just going to get my head down and try to work my way back into the team.”
Despite his City debut coming against a Skrill Premier side on their own patch, Smith doesn’t feel the team have any reason to reproach themselves.
He said: “It was a massive ask for us after Saturday when we played really well and didn’t get the rub of the green. We gave it our best at Lincoln but we were beaten by a better side.”
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