Smithies determined to stop top City trio

Alex Smithies aims to put the brakes on League One's most prolific attack today - with the help of John Vaughan and a dash of inspiration from Joe Hart.

Alex Smithies aims to put the brakes on League One's most prolific attack today - with the help of John Vaughan and a dash of inspiration from Joe Hart.

Birmingham's on-loan Manchester City and England goalkeeper has proved something of a role model for Smithies, Huddersfield's only ever-present going into today's big home clash with Norwich City.

With the Canaries having chalked up 73 goals in their 35 league games to date, including three against Town at Carrow Road back in December, it promises to be a tough test for the 20-year-old 'keeper and his seventh-placed teammates.

But thanks to Town goalkeeping coach Vaughan, Smithies will have a good idea of what's likely to come his way this afternoon.

“We always get detailed information on our opponents, and Vaughany specialises in looking into the opposition attackers,” explains the England junior international.

“We look at who likes to cut in and shoot, who is willing to have a go from distance and who is dangerous from set-pieces.

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“Vaughany also studies penalty takers, so I have an idea which way they like to shoot, and that kind of detail has already proved useful this season.

“I remember when we played Yeovil at home back in August. During the warm-up, we were looking at their players, and Vaughany pointed to Gavin Tomlin and said 'If he takes one, go right'.

“Sure enough, they got a penalty, he took it, I went right and managed to save it. It stopped them going two up and we ended up wining 2-1.”

Vaughan, who made more than 400 appearances between the posts in a career which took in West Ham, Fulham, Cambridge, Charlton, Preston and Lincoln, has been a big influence on Smithies.

Smithies is a keen student of other 'keepers, hence his interest in 22-year-old former Shrewsbury star Hart, who joined Manchester City in a deal worth a potential �1.5m in the summer of 2006 and won a full England cap against Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain in 2008.

“I think he's one of the best around,” he explained. “He was playing regular first-team football at 17 and has gone on to shine in the Premier League.

“The thing about Joe is he never seems to be at fault for any of the goals he concedes.

“Goalkeeping can be a lonely job, and because you're in the spotlight individually, the pressure is immense, particularly at Premier League level.

“Yet Joe deals with it very well, and even though he's young, he makes his presence felt both verbally and physically.”

That's just what Smithies aims to do today, when Town try to bounce back after successive defeats at Southampton and Gillingham.

“We're a close-knit group of players, and we're all so disappointed by how the last two games have gone,” said Smithies.

“But what a great game to bounce back in, the top of the league coming to our ground, where we are still unbeaten in the league this season.

“If we can take three points off them it will be a terrific start to our last push towards promotion, and we all believe we can do it.

“We played some really good stuff and dominated them in the first half down at their place, and hopefully we have learned from the way we tailed away in the second half and ended up losing 3-0.

“No one is under any illusions about the task ahead, because they're a good side with some very good players.

“Grant Holt has been on fire for them this season, Chris Martin has also been scoring regularly, and Wes Hoolahan is always a dangerous opponent.”