Liam Smith’s looking to make up for lost time at Newcastle United – and put the “worst” season of his career behind him.
Smith scored for the club’s Under-21s in last week’s 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy win over Crewe Alexandra.
The midfielder spent the first half of last season on loan at Crewe, but he didn’t make a competitive appearance for the League Two club after suffering an ankle injury.
“I could only describe it as the worst season I’ve had, and I’ve played football for a long time and had a lot of injuries,” said the South Shields-born player. “I got a loan move to a good club like Crewe. I was just settling in – I had been there two or three weeks – but I got an injury and went back to Newcastle.
“I think I was gone for about eight weeks. I came back, and suffered a similar ankle injury in the first training session. I was out for three months, and by that time the loan was finished.
“Obviously, it was frustrating. It was hard to get going for the remainder of the season. I didn’t come back until about January.
“By the time I was catching up with my fitness, the season was nearly finished. It was a nightmare.”
On his previous injury problems, he added: “I had three stress fractures when I was younger. You name it, I’ve done it.
“But I’ve kept on coming back. Hopefully, it’s a good thing, and, touch wood, it’s all behind me and I can have a good run this season.”
Smith opened the scoring in the Checkatrade Trophy group game with a shot from a Victor Fernandez cross.
I could only describe it as the worst season I’ve had, and I’ve played football for a long time and had a lot of injuries.Liam Smith
The 21-year-old admitted he was looking to “prove a point” against Crewe, having been prevented from showing what he could do.
“It’s only the third game I’ve played (at Gresty Road), considering I was meant to be on loan for six months,” said Smith.
“Victor had it and played it across just inside the box. I thought it was sitting up nicely, so I hit it. Thankfully, it’s looped over the keeper.
“It was good to come back, get the win and score, as well as see some of the players.”
Smith – who had a loan spell at Blackpool the season before last – believes the controversial Checkatrade Trophy will benefit United’s development squad.
“Probably 90% of that squad have never played against a proper league club before, so it’s good for them,” said Smith.
“This is a completely different type of game to what we play with the Under-23s, where it’s nicey-nicey football with both teams trying to play. You come (to Crewe), and they’ll lump balls into the box. They’ll kick, scrap and fight to get the win.
“More than likely they’ve got bonuses on the line. It’s their livelihoods. It changes it up from playing the same Premier League Under-23 clubs.”
Smith hopes to prove his fitness between now and the transfer window, when he could go out on loan again.
“I think I’ve started this season well,” he said. “Hopefully, that’s the end of it and I can progress.”