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AFC Bournemouth: New boy Smith ready to repay Howe's faith
The 22-year-old right-back, who last played a league match while on loan at Derby in October, revealed he had been building up his fitness since switching to Dean Court in January.
Smith has been named as a substitute for Cherries’ past three Championship outings but has yet to take to the pitch with fellow full-back Simon Francis continuing his remarkable record of playing every minute of every match this season.
However, after successfully completing 70 minutes of Cherries’ development squad friendly with Brighton last week, the Spurs academy graduate feels ripe for picking.
Smith told the Daily Echo: “I haven’t played a lot of games so it was good to get some match time because when my opportunity comes, I need to be ready.
“There was a lot of difference compared with the intensity of a first-team match but I got out of it what I needed to. I am naturally fit and, fortunately, I didn’t really feel any tiredness. I feel okay.”
While trying to break through at Spurs, Smith had no fewer than seven temporary stints elsewhere, including a season-long loan at Dean Court in 2010-11.
His most recent was meant to keep him at Derby until the summer but then-manager Nigel Clough’s departure soon saw his spell end at Pride Park, prompting the rookie to search for a permanent switch.
And with Howe showing enough faith to sign the defender on a full transfer, Smith revealed the confidence boost was just what he needed.
Smith added: “I had other options but I knew Eddie Howe from before and what stuck in my mind was how he improved me as a player. I wanted that again.
“He didn’t really have to sell the club – all I needed to hear was that he wanted me.
“I still had two-and-a-half years left on my contract at Spurs but I moved for the sake of my career.
“What happened (at Derby) was the defining moment in making me look elsewhere. The same thing had happened to me at Leeds and you do doubt yourself.
“Deep down, though, I knew that a lot of it came down to circumstances. It wasn’t down to me why the loans didn’t work out.
“I think I am now ready to play a full, competitive game so I just have to keep on training well and try to give the manager a decision to make.”