By Jon Harries
If you’d have told me at the start of the season that we would have a contracted player at the World Cup, I’d have laughed at you. Step forward Matt Smith who was one of 26 players selected by Rob Page to represent Wales at the World Cup .
Probably selected as a squad player there would be 3 opportunities for Smith to play in the group stages.
The first game was against USA. In the first half, the Americans dominated with Wreh opening the scoring after getting in behind the Welsh defence. In the second half Kieffer Moore came on and made a HUGE difference, his physical presence ultimately helping Wales winning a penalty that Gareth Bale duly tucked away. A point and something to build on.
Their next group game was against Iran. This felt like an opportunity not to be missed. Moore had a point-blank effort saved in the first half and Ben Davies a fierce drive pushed over the bar was the best they could muster up with Iran fully deserving their win with two good goals. To make matters worse, Wayne Hennessy was sent off for a awful challenge late on in the game. Still Smith sat warming the bench.
England was the final nail in the coffin losing 3 0 after a lacklustre first half, Marcus Rashford x2 and Phil Foden fired England through to a Round of 16 match against Senegal.
Matt Smith comes home with no game time on the pitch but the experience of Qatar should give him the motivation to build on a promising start to the season.
He needs to find his position and fight for his place. He may get rested for Burton or be on our bench.
Whatever happens let’s welcome him back and give him the confidence to push on.