Smith promises full throttle start at Crewe
Alan Smith has warned Crewe there will be no holding back as he spearheads the start of Manchester United's Carling Cup defence at Gresty Road.
After a couple of Champions League substitute appearances, Smith will make his long-awaited return to the United line-up tomorrow, just over nine months since fracturing his leg and breaking an ankle in a freakish accident at Liverpool.
Given the severity of his injuries and the length of time it has taken him to recover, Smith could be forgiven if he approached his comeback with a degree of trepidation.
But standing back is not in the Yorkshireman's style. So, when he occupies the striking berth Sir Alex Ferguson originally paid Leeds £6million for him to fill, Dario Gradi's League One outfit can expect to face Smith at full throttle.
'There is no mental problem for me to overcome because the way I suffered the injury was so innocuous,' he told www.manutd.com
'It was not in a tackle so when I go in for a challenge I am not thinking about my leg.
'It will be the first time I have played up there for two years and I can't wait.'
Smith was in the United line-up which defeated Crewe at the same stage of the competition two seasons ago.
Beaten in the semi-finals by Chelsea that year, the Red Devils made amends last term by romping to victory over Wigan at the Millennium Stadium to collect the trophy for only the second time in their history.
The win came just eight days after Smith suffered his injury and his team-mates paid their own tribute by wearing 'We love you Smudge' T-shirts for the presentation ceremony.
Not normally prone to outbursts of emotion, Smith admitted it brought a tear to his eye as he watched on TV.
However, his sole focus now is on helping the Red Devils take the first small step towards retaining the trophy.
'The more silverware this club wins, the better it is for everyone,' said the Rothwell-born player, who celebrates his 26th birthday on Saturday.
'We won the Carling Cup last season and we want to make sure we do it again, so we will definitely be taking the game seriously.
'There are players who are fighting for first-team places and those, like myself, who are coming back from injury, so it is a vital game for us and one we are looking forward to.'
Having sent most of his fringe players out on loan, Ferguson's side will have a strange look about it.
Tomasz Kuszczak, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Kieran Richardson are all certain to be involved, as are Mikael Silvestre and Gabriel Heinze, who, like Smith, are trying to get themselves back to full fitness again.
Midfielder David Jones, the one senior reserve team player not allowed to leave Old Trafford this season, is set to start for only the second time, while namesake Ritchie will also be involved after making three Carling Cup appearances last term.
Ferguson has also promised teenage quartet Ryan Shawcross, Kieran Lee, Aaron Burns and David Gray some involvement, although the Scot will be eager to ensure there is enough experience on show to cement a place in the last 16.