VALIANT SMITH ‘IS READY TO STEP UP’
PORT VALE boss Bruno Ribeiro believes Nathan Smith is set for the Premier League in the not-too-distant future after presenting his 20-year-old starlet with the EFL Young Player of the Month award.
It was only by chance that Smith, who spent last year on loan at Torquay United, was given his chance in the first-team this season after injury forced Ribeiro’s hand.
Now, though, he is one of the first names on the teamsheet after seizing his chance at centre-back.
“I’m very happy with him,” said Ribeiro, who has also rewarded Smith with a three-year contract extension. “For me, he is already a Championship player. In a few years, then Premier League.
“He is fantastic. He is strong, only 20 years old and he is still learning every day. He works very hard at his game.”
The Valiants conceded just two goals in August under Smith’s watch – and the youngster also scored the winner against Rochdale.
“This was the high end of what we were planning when I reported back for pre-season in June,” admitted Smith.
“The target was just to get in the first team, play some games and maybe go out on loan. This has exceeded my expectations.”
PRAISE: Nathan Smith