Rotherham United: League One award winner Michael Smith ‘like the best kid in school in League One’

ROTHERHAM UNITED manager Paul Warne has paid tribute to newly-crowned League One player-of-the-month Michael Smith – and says he is playing at a level below where he should be.

Michael Smith of Rotherham United wins the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month award. Picture: Robbie Stephenson/JMP

The in-form striker beat off competition from former Doncaster Rovers full-back Danny Andrew, now at Fleetwood Town, Wigan winger James McClean and Accrington midfielder Harry Pell to claim the award for October after scoring five goals and providing two assists in a stellar month.

Warne, who missed out on the managerial gong, which went to Plymouth Argyle’s Ryan Lowe, said: “Having Smudge at the front is like having Woody (Richard Wood) at the back: you can rely on them. I think the team feel better when he is on the pitch.

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“The lads like it when he is out there with them – a bit like it was with Jack Grealish at Aston Villa really.

“He is a big part of what we do. He is probably playing a division below the standard where he should be.

“He’s like the best kid in school in League One. I sometimes feel like its like he is an adult playing against under-16s.”

Part of a Millers side who are unbeaten in 13 fixtures in all competitions, Smith has also found the net 13 times this term and is five goals shy of his best ever season’s return – a total of 18 for Swindon Town in 2014-15.

Warne added: “He is playing at the front of a very good team, which obviously helps every centre-forward.

“I have always been Smudge’s biggest fan, ever since he first came in when I was abused for signing him. I have always thought he has everything a Rotherham striker should have.

“He is brave, he plays injured, gives his all and presses. His standard of pressing is a joke and his hold-up play has improved. I still think he has got improvement in him.

“He is believing in himself a bit more in the box. We keep showing him and telling him: ‘Get in the middle of the six-yard box.’

“He has definitely got better at that. It is like anything, if you do it and you do it well, you want to do it again and again and again.

“At the moment, he is obviously getting goals. He will go through barren times, but at the moment, he’s hot to trot.

“I think possibly the two best performances I have seen from him this year have been against Sunderland the other week and against Newcastle in pre-season. We just need to play teams from the North East every week and we will be laughing!”