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By ESPN Staff

Smith happy after smooth return for Man Utd

Alan Smith declared himself extremely satisfied after completing his first public appearance since the horrific double leg break he suffered at Liverpool last February.

Exactly 184 days since fracturing his shin and breaking an ankle attempting to charge down a John Arne Riise shot at Anfield, the Manchester United striker emerged unscathed from a 66-minute appearance in a 7-2 reserve-team triumph over Preston at Deepdale.

Although Smith did not get on the score sheet, he turned in his usual bustling display, particularly during the first half, and felt no ill effects from his exertions.

• McClair reveals admiration for Smith

The £6million former Leeds player is now looking ahead to a couple more second-string outings during the international break before possibly coming into contention for the Premiership encounter with Tottenham on September 9.

'I have worked hard for that all through the summer,' said the 25-year-old.

'That is what my goal has been. Playing for the reserves is a step up from training and hopefully, in a few weeks time I will have had some more reserve games and be able to make the step up to the first team.

'The first half I felt okay but I started to get a bit tired 15 minutes into the second half, which is why I came off.

'I just need a few matches under my belt, although I think I could have played all night and not scored.

'But my movement was okay and I just need to build up my strength a little bit.'

Restored to Sir Alex Ferguson's array of attacking options, Smith could turn into a key figure at Old Trafford this season.

However, in a one-sided contest, his contribution to this evening's game was overshadowed by that of young strike partner Giuseppe Rossi.

Capped for the first time at under-21 level by Italy last week, Rossi converted two well-taken efforts after half-time to ensure the visitors progressed with the minimum of fuss.

Phil Marsh (2), Chris Eagles, Danny Rose and David Jones also on target for the visitors.

  • McClair reveals admiration for Smith

    Stand-in reserve-team boss Brian McClair admits he has 'nothing but admiration' for Manchester United striker Alan Smith.

    The England international made his comeback from the horrific double leg break he suffered at Liverpool in February in a second-string game at Preston on Monday night.

    Even though Smith was clearly short of fitness, the 25-year-old showed all his usual verve and energy, with the only downside to his appearance being that he could not manage to score in United's 7-2 win.

    Smith is now expected to feature against Blackburn reserves at Hyde next Thursday and, providing he comes through that test, should come into contention for the Barclays Premiership encounter with Tottenham on September 9.

    The £6million capture from Leeds has amazed Sir Alex Ferguson and his backroom team, not just with the speed of his recovery but the attitude he has shown to overcome such a terrible injury.

    McClair, currently standing in as United reserve-team boss until a replacement is found for Rene Meulensteen, could not hold Smith in any greater esteem.

    'Alan is an inspirational character and an example to all the young players at our club,' said McClair.

    'I have nothing but admiration for the boy for coming back from such a serious injury so quickly and so positively. His attitude has been so impressive.

    'He has been training right through the summer. He understood what he needed to do and worked tirelessly to achieve it.

    'We are all so delighted for the boy. You never get a minute's bother from him and whatever you ask him to do, at whatever level, he is comfortable with it and committed.

    'He is looking fit and strong. The only thing he is short of now is match practice and that will come over the next few weeks.'