Smith glad to be back
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Alan Smith is hungry to prove himself again after making an early return from injury.
Alan Smith admits he is hungry to prove himself again after making an early return from a horror injury.
The Manchester United striker came on as a late substitute against Benfica in midweek, seven months after breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle in an FA Cup tie with Liverpool.
Smith was always confident he would return to competitive action and is delighted to be playing ahead of the predicted Christmas comeback date.
"It was a sweet night for me to get back," Smith told the News of the World.
"To be honest, I love the game even more than before I was injured. You get a hunger for it when you have missed out.
"People originally said I would return at Christmas, but if I had got back in training by then I would have done well.
"There have been times when you get down, you get a peak and then it levels off for a while and you get no improvement and then one day it clicks in.
"The hard work gets rewarded when you get a chance like I did on Tuesday and get back out onto the pitch, then it is all worthwhile.
"I love playing for this club, I love playing football, I was always determined to get back.
"There was never a moment when I thought this is it. There was nothing like that going through my head."
With a first appearance under his belt, the 25-year-old is now focusing on building up his match fitness to be available on a regular basis.
Having spent last season pressed into emergency service in midfield, Smith has been heartened by Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to restore him to a striking role this term.
He added: "I'm back as a striker this season and I love it. I think I did a stop-gap job for the gaffer last year. I think he has always seen me as a striker.
"He told me I'm the youngest centre forward he has ever bought. Obviously Wayne Rooney is a bit different, he plays just off the front line."