Date: 16th February 2007 at 4:40pm
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One year has passed since Riise’s shot broke Smith’s leg and dislocated his ankle in the FA Cup 5th round at Anfield and now Smudger could play again in the oldest club competition.

The striker has mande only two first-team starts since that horrible injury and he was working towards regaining his fitness level through an intensive training programme.

His workrate was hailed by Sir Alex Ferguson who still does not wish to rush Smith back into action.

“I could play him against Reading no problem,’ said Sir Alex. ‘But the difficulty of course is the form of the team and that I have so many players playing so well. I`m trying to be fair to everyone, but it is hard. All I can say is that he is improving all the time, he has been terrific in training.

“I`m thinking that when Henrik Larsson goes back to Helsingborg in March, Alan could become a very important player to us. I think he sees that himself, and hopefully that is the case.

“It’s just a matter of getting his timing and his confidence back again,” added the boss. “He’s coming along fine. He’s been in the squad over the last few weeks but the team is picking itself at the moment and when everyone is fit it’s difficult even to pick the subs.”

I seriously doubt that Smith will ever be an important player for United now. Larsson’s loan deal will expire in a month time but that could be extended and I believe that’s what will happen.

Smith could have had a place on the bench against Watford or Charlton but no, he did not get the chance. Crucial games will come and if Sir Alex did not dare to play him in these games, when would he? At Anfield?