HUNGER, desire and commitment are three sharp words that pop from the mouth of footballer-turned-pundit Alan Hansen from time to time.

Managers enjoy uttering the same nouns too, or similar ones, especially to summarise a good win or when singling out a player for individual praise.

Or when describing the merits of an important summer signing. Cue Andy Preece and the superlatives he threw in the direction of Worcester City new-boy Chris Smith.

"Chris is young, very competitive and has got a will to win," enthused Preece. "He's good on the ball, aggressive in the air, got a lot of pace and reads the game very well.

"He's just what we need at the club, a young player who can play at a higher level and is hungry for success."

There is no requirement to read between the lines. Preece is 100 per cent certain he has the man capable of taking City's defence to the next level.

Smith was the manager's number one target long before the final kick of last season and Preece's intention was to wedge the former Stafford Rangers centre-half in alongside Carl Heeley and Barry Woolley.

Heeley has now gone, but the thought of Smith partnering Woolley and teenager Shabir Khan in a three-man rearguard is a mouth-watering prospect.

The trio may not bind together too much next season, as veteran Paul Carty is certain to assume a major role, but Preece will be keen to assess how well his three young rocks gel at the back.

Preece tagged Smith the best centre-half in Nationwide North and predicts a future Football League return for the 23-year-old.

Smith is certainly a determined lad and there is a strong possibility he will fulfil his wish of becoming a professional footballer once again.

Countless non-league players have a tough-luck story to tell on how they slipped from the clutches of the Football League and Smith's account is no different.

On his three years at York City, Smith said: "In my first season, I played about 20 games and after that played regularly in my second and third seasons.

"I came runner-up for player of the season in my second year and ended up playing just under 100 league games. But unfortunately, in my last year, we got relegated.

"I got offered a contract in January-February time and we sort of negotiated. But by the time it was sorted out two or three weeks later, we got relegated. I did not sign it and basically they said they could not stick to the contract. I was left in limbo."

Stafford brought Smith back from the wilderness, but the drop to part-time level forced the Derby-born defender to take up a second job as a plasterer, which proved a real eye-opener.

Smith added: "When I was a professional at York, I started training at 10am and finish at 1pm. I used to moan and groan about that being a hard day's work.

"And then as soon as I came out of football, I used to get up at 7.30am to plaster and would not finish until 6.30pm, with a half an hour break and that was it.

"You then realise how hard it is in the real world. That's exactly what drives you that little bit more to get back into full-time football, so you can appreciate it that bit more."