Alan Smith goes into Manchester Uniteds match with Bolton with an eye on keeping his place and firing United to glory.
The last time Manchester United lifted a cup they were wearing ‘This is for you Smudge’ t-shirts as Smith lay in hospital after breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle in a horrific incident during an FA Cup tie at Liverpool. Since then Smith has been working hard on his fitness in an attempt to dislodge an attack which was firing on all cylinders. Manager, Alex Ferguson even suggested he went out on loan which Smith flatly refused.
A £7million signing from Leeds in May 2004, Smith has never really had a full run in the team but that is set to change with the clubs current striker crisis. The only striker available apart from Smith is England’s Wayne Rooney. Henrik Larsson’s loan spell with the club ended on March 12th and he could not be persuaded to stay by Ferguson. Promising Italian youngster Guiseppe Rossi, was allowed to go on loan to Parma for a year and with Louis Saha and Ole Gunnar solskjaer out til the end of the month Ferguson’s hand was forced as he has nobody else available.
Smith has spoken of his desire to contribute, he said, “There is a big month coming up now and I want to be involved, it is what I have worked so hard for. As soon as i suffered the injury I set myself three goals. The first was to get myself fit, the second was to get back into the team and the third was to win more international honours.
Physically I am probably fitter than I ever have been in my life. I’m confident about getting a chance between now and the end of the season and when I do, it’s up to me to take it”.
Smith has been through alot on his road to recovery, two Carling Cup starts demonstrated just how far off from full fitness he was, he said, “After the two cup games I knew I was still miles off. But it was a bonus really because it allowed me to focus on what rehabilitation work I needed to do to get fit again. Smith spoke of his desire to return to the player he once was, “I do believe I can get back to what I was. That is what the manager is hoping for as well. The good thing about this club is they give players to recover from long term injuries”
After a relatively injury free season, United have been blighted by injuries in recent weeks, the likes of Mikael Silvestre and possibly Darren Fletcher ruled out for the season. But it is up front where they are looking depleted and Smith will have to step up to the plate or United are in danger of injuries ruining their season.