‘He’s a massive player for this club’ – View of Port Vale’s Nathan Smith


Danny Pugh says Nathan Smith’s growing belief in his own ability helped him make the switch to right back.

Smith could stay at full back for Port Vale’s game at Walsall on Saturday after impressing there in last weekend’s 3-0 win at home to Colchester. 

The 23- year-old centre half has only played a couple of his 196 Vale appearances at full back but has given the management food for thought after filling in while James Gibbons and Mitch Clark were suspended against Colchester.

Smith lost his place in central defence through injury last month and has had to be patient because Shaun Brisley has done well there alongside captain Leon Legge.

But first team coach Pugh says Smith has developed and is increasingly comfortable on he ball.

Port Vale v Colchester: Nathan Smith wins the header against Frank Nouble

He explained: “More this season than ever. I always think he has been better than probably he even thinks he is. But I think his confidence is coming through now. Everyone knows what a good defender he is, and how horrible he must be to play against. But he is looking more comfortable and confident.”

Gibbons is available after completing a two-game ban so the management have a difficult selection decision after Smith played his part in the clean sheet.

Pugh added: “He was brilliant. He loves defending and that is exactly what he did. He limited their wide players’ opportunities but was also a bit of a threat going forward. So, he did exceptionally well.

“It sums him up. He trains hard and he is an absolute monster on the pitch for us. He has been brilliant for us and his levels of performance have been so consistent.”

Vale would like to tie Smith to a new deal before he becomes a free agent in the summer.

Pugh added: “He’s a massive player for this club. I think everyone knows, as a club and a management staff, we would want to keep him. But that is down to him now.”

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