Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 01 March 2013
MATT Smith still has plenty of improving to do says Athletic boss Tony Philliskirk.
And crucially, he believes the striker has the right attitude to get the best out of himself.
Athletic’s FA Cup talisman was on the bench at Goodison Park for this week’s fifth-round replay.
It was a selection decision Philliskirk was asked about several times after the game - especially as Smith scored.
The 23 year old has now taken four goals against Premier League opponents - more than established internationals Andy Carroll, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Gervinho and Emmanuel Adebayor.
If he can successfully hone some of his rougher edges, Philliskirk believes a player who has only 18 months of experience playing in the senior professional game can go on to big things.
“Matt deserves the attention,” Philliskirk said, after a period in which almost every national newspaper has focused in on the strapping forward.
“His profile has been hugely enhanced because of what he has done in the FA Cup and I think he is really improving as a player.
“Every interview I did straight after Everton asked me the same question first up: ‘Why didn’t you play Matt Smith?
“We make decisions we believe are right for the team at the time. Matt’s next stage of his development is to become a regular and to perform consistently week-in, week-out.
“He has only been in the game 18 months. He has so much to learn.
“I don’t want to throw him in at the deep end under a weight of expectation..
“Wherever his future takes him, whether it is with Oldham Athletic or elsewhere, I am sure he will do well.”
Phillikirk’s focus is now determinedly on the league.
“We want to play good football in style and we want to entertain.
“But if you turned round now and offered me five 1-0 wins and a 0-0 draw between now and the end of the season, I would snap your hand off. I honestly would.”
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