Doncaster Rovers: Leeds striker Matt Smith could have been a Rover

Matt Smith
Matt Smith

Matt Smith could well have been lining up for Doncaster against Leeds United tomorrow, had Paul Dickov got his way.

Targetman Smith, who has formed an effective partnership with 16-goal ex-Rovers loanee Ross McCormack, was plucked from non-league by Dickov during his time at Oldham Athletic.

And the 24-year-old was aware of the interest from his former boss before moving to Elland Road in the summer.

“We had other priorities at the time but Matt knew we would’ve liked to have brought him here,” said Dickov.

“He made up his mind and went elsewhere.

“I wished him all the best at the time and I’ll wish him all the best after Saturday night.

“Matt’s somebody I watched a lot of at non-league level and obviously signed him for Oldham on a two-year deal.

“Apart from his mum and dad, there’s probably no one as delighted as I am to see how well he’s done.

“He’s a fantastic kid who wants to learn, and to see him playing and scoring goals in the Championship is a credit to him.

“He’s something different, a throwback to the old centre forward,” he added.

“Teams struggle to play against him, because when he’s at it he can be a proper handful.

“When the ball’s coming from deep we need to be wary of the second balls from his flick-ons.

“He’s a lot better with his feet than he gets credit for too.

“We’re going to have to be very careful with him up front with McCormack and [Rodolph] Austin stuck in behind.

“Those three have caused teams a lot of problems.”

Dickov hinted at something of a tactical battle at his pre-match press conference yesterday.

“They’re playing a system at the minute which can be hard to play against, with three at the back, four across the middle, with Austin playing off the front two,” he said.

“So we’ve got to be careful how we go about that.

“They’re scoring goals and playing some good football at the moment.

“McCormack’s having a good season but what we can’t do is just concentrate on one player.

“It’s a fantastic game for us, especially on the back of a poor defeat,” added Dickov.

“We want to go out and, like we did against QPR, Leicester and Forest here, try and take the game to them.

“But obviously we have to be mindful that they are good team.”