Why Matt Smith only had eyes for Doncaster Rovers when loan stay was thrown into doubt

When doubt was cast over where he would spend the second half of the season, Matt Smith had no hesitation in flagging up his desire to remain with Doncaster Rovers.

By Liam Hoden
Friday, 29th January 2021, 6:00 am

The midfielder’s parent club Manchester City exercised a break clause in the loan deal earlier this month in order to consider their options for Smith.

It was ultimately agreed the Wales international would remain at the Keepmoat, but the second half of the loan will require a bigger financial outlay for Rovers.

For Smith, the resolution was a positive one and delivered the outcome he was hoping for.

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Matt Smith

“I’m delighted,” he said.

“It was difficult to get the first loan move in place and there were talks, while I was trying to focus on my football, that something would happen in January.

“I’m delighted that finally now I know that I am here until the end of the season, which is great.

“When I joined I saw it as being until the end of the season.

“For it to start as well as it did, it felt like a no-brainer to stay here.

“It was, not so much, out of my hands, but I was thinking I really want to stay here.

“I’m delighted that it’s happened and I can focus fully on our target at Doncaster.”

City too were happy for the 21-year-old to remain with Rovers and Smith says the Premier League giants have been pleased with his progress over the last few months.

“The message was pretty much continue as I was doing,” he said.

“We all knew how important it was to get back playing so they’ve been happy with me playing and how I’ve been getting on.

“They’re really happy with how we play, the philosophy at the club.

“I’ve said it before that it’s a no brainer for all parties.”

Smith has impressed since arriving at Rovers in October. But the departure of Ben Whiteman earlier this month has handed him the opportunity to become an even more prominent figure in the side.

And he admits he was buoyed by Darren Moore’s faith that the key to replacing Whiteman lay within his squad.

“I think we knew what Ben brought to us but it was something we had to get into our heads would maybe happen,” he said.

“For me I looked at it as an opportunity to maybe play in a different role in the midfield, and a role I feel comfortable with.

“What the gaffer said, about that within the squad we maybe have enough to replace Ben, it gave me a lot of confidence.

“We knew we had to step up and I feel that we’ve done that.”

Smith’s confidence was on full display in a moment of real quality that has captured attention on social media.

Against AFC Wimbledon he met the ball on the half volley and swiped a long, low pass into space out wide which was perfect for Elliot Simoes to run onto.

“I think that’s up there with the best I’ve hit,” he said.

“It was just instinct and it’s good when things like that come off.

“At that time we were winning and playing well, so we are full of confidence.

“Everyone dug deep and got the win and now we’re looking forward to Saturday.”

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