Left-back says he faces a battle to reclaim a place
Jack Smith admits he faces a tough battle to reclaim a place in the AFC Wimbledon side after completing his first 90 minutes since the end of November.
The 31-year-old has been out of the first-team picture for two and a half months with a thigh injury and in his absence Callum Kennedy played every game at left-back with a consistent run of form that impressed Neal Ardley.
However, Smith got back in the groove by playing the full match for the development squad in last night’s 4-1 win against Portsmouth after being an unused substitute at Shrewsbury on Saturday.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Smith said: “When you get injured someone is always looking to take your place and that’s what football is all about. Callum had to be patient earlier in the season because he was not playing many games until I got injured. Then he got his chance and he has taken it. Now it’s down to me to try and get back into the team.
“It was great to be back in the squad on Saturday. You do feel a little isolated when the lads are going down to Woodies to train and you’re stuck in the gym. You miss training, the banter with the lads and everything that goes with it. It’s not just the games and I’ve missed being a part of it.
“I’ve had a long time out and it’s been frustrating as I’ve been out for around nine weeks. It will be great to get that feeling back and adrenaline of playing again in front of the fans. It makes you feel good. The injury is fine and it’s just a case of building up my fitness so that I’m ready for when I’m required for the first-team.”
Wimbledon’s management team have carefully managed Smith’s recuperation – and he fully understands why that is the best course of action at his age.
“You want to be straight out there and thrust into games, but I’m not getting any younger,” added Smith. “When you get to over 30 I think the management want to look after you a bit more and if they decide I need a couple more Under-21 games then that’s fine. They want to get me up to speed to ensure that I don’t get another injury.”