Smithies is glad to be back in the thick of it

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ALEX SMITHIES has spoken of his delight at being involved once again in Huddersfield Town’s push for the Championship.

The 21-year-old missed 11 months due to a knee problem which needed two separate operations to correct.

However, since returning in what turned out to be Lee Clark’s last game in charge – the Valentine’s Day defeat to Sheffield United – he has been in fine form, as underlined against Stevenage when a penalty save rescued a point for Simon Grayson’s men.

Smithies said: “It is the best time of the season now because it is the business end and all that matters is grinding out results. Hopefully, we can do that and get up there in the top two.

“I have looked at the fixtures and realistically we can win the next three or four. We were a little bit disappointed after the Stevenage game but we can’t dwell on that too much because we need to kick on and really go for it.

“The good thing is there are not just a couple of games left. We have 14 left, which gives us plenty of time to catch up and Sheffield United plenty of time to slip up.

“As long as we concentrate on what we are doing, I would like to think that the teams above us will have a blip before the end of the season and that will push us on to second spot.”

Before last month’s defeat to the Blades, Smithies’s most recent first-team outing had been in a goalless draw with Swindon Town on March 19, 2011.

Initially, he hoped to be back by the start of this season but original surgery failed to solve his knee problem and he had to go under the knife again.

Smithies, who replaced Ian Bennett in goal, said: “It has been a very tough past year with the injury I have had. I have had quite a few setbacks really.

“However, I feel really fit now – my knee has never been better and I have not missed a day of training since I came back on Boxing Day, so that’s not really an issue any more.

“I am having no issues whatsoever and I feel better each day so I can’t ask for any more than that. It is just down to me to perform now.

“It is time for me to focus on my football and I am really pleased to be back training and playing,” he added..

“I am delighted with how it is going at the moment.”