Brisbane Roar skipper Matt Smith is in fine scoring form and is working hard to earn a spot in the Socceroos’ World Cup squad.
The central defender has managed three goals in his 16 appearances for Roar this season, an impressive haul considering he had previously scored just two in his four years with Brisbane.
His return of three goals puts him ahead of strikers like Melbourne Heart’s Michael Mifsud and Harry Kewell, Melbourne Victory’s Kosta Barbarouses, Newcastle Jets forward Emile Heskey and Central Coast pair Mitchell Duke and Daniel McBreen.
Smith has been a key member of Roar, forming a solid partnership with both Jade North and at times James Donachie, helping the club to the top of the A-League table.
“Personally I’m pretty much back to 100% now, which is great,” Smith said. “Obviously the hip still took a bit of time at the start of the year to get right. The physio and the conditioning team have done a great job with me on that.
"I’m really happy first and foremost with the way that the club’s going and the way the team has been performing well. At the end of the day, if we perform well collectively then I’m sure that each individual player will get the better applause.”
Smith said it has been a concerted ploy for him to get more involved at set pieces.
“Mike said at the start of the year that he wants six from me so I guess I’ve got three in the first half already, I can get three in the back half,” he said.
“It’s actually something that me and Thomas talk about, with his set-pieces from free kicks and corners. We used to have big Eric or Mo that used to attack them and they used to have quite a good return.
"Since they’ve left, there’s a few of us, me, Jade, probably Ivan and Bes, who try to get on the end of them. It’s always nice to score but it’s my job to stop the goals coming in the other end. My biggest challenge is to have the best defensive record in the league and obviously the best cleansheet record as well - try to help Theo out.
"I’d rather stop them than score them but it’s always nice to get on the scoresheet from time to time.”
Smith joined Roar in 2010 from North Queensland Fury, after relocating to Australia from the UK in 2007. The 31-year old scored two goals in his first season at Suncorp Stadium but went goalless in his next two seasons. This campaign the defender has managed three strikes after round 10.
The English-born defender, who was once on Portsmouth’s books, also played for the Socceroos three times in 2012 at the East Asian Cup qualifers.
“It was a very proud moment,” Smith said. “I’m very honoured to represent Australia and given the chance from Holger. Like all players, I want more but that’s something that, the decisions out of my hands.
"The only thing I can do is to do consistently well at Brisbane and in Ange’s eyes that’s what he focuses on.”
Calm-headed and dependable, Smith may be in with a chance of a Socceroo recall considering the national team’s defensive woes.
Lucas Neill is still clubless, Rhys Williams may be out with an Achilles injury and Sasa Ognenovski turns 35 in April. Matthew Spiranovic has been played in midfield recently by the Wanderers and there has been no standout Australian centre back who has taken their Socceroo opportunity with both hands in recent times.
Smith worked well with Ange Postecoglou at Roar but said he has not heard from his former coach since he took the national team reins.
“I think the next chance is going to be in March so there’s a lot of football to be played before now and then,” Smith said. “I just hope I can do my best for Brisbane and hope that Ange sees it and I can be in favour for him.
"I guess that’s all I can really do.”
Smith admits the World Cup has entered his thoughts but his focus now is continuing Roar’s outstanding season.
“I’m sure that in every single Australian football person’s mind is that there’s always the opportunity,” he said. “But for me at the moment it’s making sure that I’m performing well on a consistent basis.
"I think that’s all I can really do, focus on what’s going on at Brisbane and making sure I’m injury free and I’m playing and performing well.”3 comments