Newcastle midfielder reveals what he has learnt on loan – and talks about his return to club

Liam Smith

Liam Smith

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Newcastle United midfielder Liam Smith says he hopes to come back to St James's Park a better player after his loan spell at Blackpool.

The 20-year-old, from South Shields, signed for the Seasiders last month until the end of the season, and has made five appearances so far as League One strugglers look to avoid the drop.

Smith said: "The full loan spell has been a good experience, because we have had such ups and downs since I have been here.

"You realise it is not all about pretty football when you leave. You have got to do the dirty stuff, tackling and clearing your lines, and seeing games out at times. At Newcastle we play it on the floor no matter what."

Having yet to break into Newcastle's first-team squad, Smith has been thrown into the deep end with his first taste of first-team football, with Blackpool sat in the League One bottom four, a point adrift of safety having playing at least a game more than their rivals.

He added: "Here this is people’s livelihoods, it matters. Relegations and promotions mean a lot, whereas in the Under-21s it is only really about performances, so I am grateful for the experience I am gaining."

Smith – who was handed his first professional contract at Newcastle last March after a successful season in Peter Beardsley's second string – also revealed how thankful he was for Newcastle sticking by him after a serious back injury almost threatened his career.

"I had a stress fracture in my back at a key stage of my development as a player," he said. "It was the lowest of the lows at one point and I was wondering if it was ever going to go away.

“Newcastle could have easily let me go, because I had barely played, but thankfully I have been there since I was little, so they know what I am like.

"I am definitely mentally tougher from the experience. Now I’m ready to get a clean run of games and hopefully help Blackpool stay up."