Smith confident Johnson has what it takes
Paddy DavittNorwich City's teenage midfielder Korey Smith is ready to take new-boy Oli Johnson under his wing.Smith has struck up an instant rapport with the highly-rated young striker who followed up his first goal for the club at Colchester with a weekend assist for Chris Martin's Brentford match-winner.Paddy Davitt
Norwich City's teenage midfielder Korey Smith is ready to take new-boy Oli Johnson under his wing.
Smith has struck up an instant rapport with the highly-rated young striker who followed up his first goal for the club at Colchester with a weekend assist for Chris Martin's Brentford match-winner.
Now City's former academy skipper is more than happy to show 22-year-old Johnson the ropes after establishing himself as a permanent fixture in Paul Lambert's promotion-chasing squad.
Smith has missed only three League One games this season ahead of tonight's Walsall test since forcing his way into the club's senior ranks towards the end of last year's Championship campaign.
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'I probably wouldn't have expected to start as many games,' he said. 'I don't think any 18-year-old would have done but it's a dream come true and I just want to build on it. To get so many in as a young lad can only give me that much more experience compared to other boys my age.
'I've become quite good friends with Oli already, to be fair. He has come on twice now, scored once and set a goal up, so I'm really happy for him. He has come from a long way away where he doesn't know too many people but he done excellent and all the lads have made him feel welcome.
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'He's definitely a down-to-earth person and on the pitch he is doing the business as well. Hopefully he can keep going and get some more goals for us.'
Smith is ready to clock up more midfield miles in the West Midlands after a gruelling shift against the Bees.
'To go down to 10 men with a whole second half ahead, you do think 'oh no, what have we got in store now.' You know its going to be ridiculously tiring,' he said.
'You also know we'll stick together as a team and a whole squad. The new lads came on and did well and Oli created one for Chris (Martin) which was excellent.
'I put in a hard shift and right now the legs maybe don't feel their best but we'll be ready to go again against Walsall. They are going well in and around those play-offs, they'll want to win as much as we do, so it won't be easy.'
Smith detects a steely determination to preserve City's hard won status as League One leaders.
'It's a great feeling to see yourself top of the league, from when the gaffer first came in I think we were 18th or 19th,' he said. 'To see us at the top is such an achievement. We just want to keep it going now. I believe we have good enough players, not just in the team but in the squad, to be up there.
'Obviously we had a slow start but we're there now and we just need to keep it going. We know Leeds have got the two games in hand but they still have to get those points and other teams are chasing us so we just have to try and pull away.'