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Smith to seize the moment

3 September 2012

Matt looks for starting spot

Matt Smith is ready to seize the chance to establish a regular first-team place with Latics.

The 6ft 6in striker is the frontrunner to replace the injured Jordan Slew in tomorrow's Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie at Chesterfield.

Smith, who played 75 minutes at Portsmouth after replacing Slew, said: "It was good to get so many minutes of the pitch, but more important to get the first three points in the bag which has given everyone a lift.

"We go to Chesterfield with a lot of confidence and the togetherness in the group is brilliant as it has been all season.

"I want to start every game and prepare the same way because, like Saturday, you could come on after 20 minutes so you have to be ready and prepared."

Smith is looking forward to playing up front with Cristian Montano and Lee Croft supplying the ammunition from the wings.

"Last year we have Filipe Morais and Chris Taylor supplying the crosses and I can see it being the same this season," he explained.

Smith says there is a determination to beat the Spireites who defeated Latics in the Northern Area Final of last season's JPT.

He explained: "It is a good opportunity for us to get to Wembley after we were so close last season.

"It is still fresh in our memories so for sure we have a point to prove to try and get one over them.

"There is a determination from a lot of us to make sure we get there this season. It is a big tournament for us."

Smith describes himself as one year wiser after recently celebrating his first year as a professional having joined Latics from non-league Solihull Moors in the summer of 2011.

He said: "When I arrived I was thrown in at the deep end and straight into the team and had no bedding in period.

"When Shefki Kuqi arrived, I then spent the majority of the season on the bench.

"I have had had to bide my time and there has been that element of patience and my lack of experience probably showed last season.

"It has been a massive learning curve think I am a year wiser and I am confident when I get my opportunity I will take it.

"I feel I am a far better player than when I arrived - stronger, fitter and far more clued up - and it has been far different to non-league football."

Smith added his influence of his father Ian, a striker who played for Queen's Park, Hibernian, Queen of the South and Birmingham City, has been massive.

"My dad comes to most of our games and he says he has noticed a huge difference. He is my biggest critic but I know from what he has told me that I am heading in the right direction," he continued.

Smith said last season's loan spell at Macclesfield Town also helped with his footballing education and reinforced his desire to play at the highest level saying it made him realise the big difference between League One and Two.

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