Manchester City EDS midfielder Matt Smith is delighted with his current role at the heart of the Premier League 2 side.
Smith is still only 17 and has starred for Lee Carsley’s U18s throughout the campaign but having moved up in recent weeks to Simon Davies’ side, the Welsh youth international is taking it all in his stride.
“At the start of the season, if you would have said I would be playing a lot for the U23s then I would have taken that all day long” he said.
“It’s just important on a personal note that I don’t think I’m here now and that I can relax. I have to keep on improving because there’s no point in getting to this level and not learning from playing against all the players filled with experience.”
Despite being clawed back three times on the evening at the Emirates Stadium, Smith was delighted to pit his wits against the likes of Arsenal first teamers Carl Jenkinson, Rob Holding, Yaya Sanogo and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
He said: “It was a really good experience to match up against some players that have played in the Premier League and are always around the first team. We’ve got a young squad and to have had the chance to shine at the Emirates just added to the great occasion.
“Up to the final moment I think it was a great performance. Letting the two goals slip wasn’t ideal but to get back in the lead showed the fight and quality we have within the team.
“To concede in that final moment wasn’t nice but the most important thing in football is to learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
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Smith has garnered something of a reputation for tough tackling midfield displays but he has featured in a number of roles, including as an inverted full-back, for the Elite Development Squad.
“The plan at Arsenal was to start in the middle. Against Everton we thought it would help to confuse them if I was to start on the left and come in and move about.
“I started in the middle and it worked really well because Arsenal were surprised and it made so many more chances for us to get on the ball. They weren’t expecting us to set up in that way.”
Smith and his Premier League 2 teammates will welcome Derby County to the Academy Stadium on Friday 7 April.