Smith in on a wing and a prayer

Last updated : 04 October 2008 By Chris C
Smith's signing follows Saints' recent transfer policy of finding youngsters with something to prove. A quick, skillful left winger, Smith's career has never quite taken off.

He started out as a member of Arsenal's famed academy, but was unable to break into the first team making just the two starts in the League Cup, plus four as substitute. Given the global scouting network and resources available to Wenger, it is no slight on the player not to make it into the first team. Indeed he soon went on loan to Leicester making ten starts and scoring his first and ony goal to date.

A permanent transfer to Derby followed, but he was unable to establish himself in the first team on a regular basis and soon moved on loan to Millwall. The Lions saw enough in his potential to spent £150k on the player, but despite another promising start he has been unable to break into the first team this season.

So why are Saints signing a player that can't get into a League One team?

As with Lee Holmes, Robertson, Pulis and Gasmi before him, they hope that he just needs a break at the right club to kick start his career. At 21, he needs to make his breakthrough soon and Saints are hoping that hunger will come to the fore.

With Lee Holmes on the long term injury list, Saints need a left winger capable of fitting into the 4-2-1-2-1 system that is coming back into favour after Poortvliet arrested Saints' bad run of results.

He sees Surman more as a central midfielder or left back and still curiously refuses to play Rudi Skacel with rumours of high appearance fees still circulating despite denials by sources at the club. Despite Bradley Wright-Phillips' efforts against Norwich, he is no left winger leaving Poortvliet keen to find a player capable of fitting into the system.

His pace will certainly fit into the way Saints want to play as will his versatility with the player able to play up front. However, a single goal in his career to date suggests that he has a lot of improving to do in front of goal to be a genuine option at striker.