VIDEO: New boy Smith ready for the challenge
Chris Lakey Paul Lambert piled the pressure on Norwich City's longest-serving player yesterday when he made his third signing of the summer. Steven Smith has agreed a two-year deal on a Bosman transfer after leaving Glasgow Rangers - and immediately goes head-to-head with Adam Drury for the left-back berth in Lambert's Championship starting XI.
Paul Lambert piled the pressure on Norwich City's longest-serving player yesterday when he made his third signing of the summer.
Steven Smith has agreed a two-year deal on a Bosman transfer after leaving Glasgow Rangers - and immediately goes head-to-head with Adam Drury for the left-back berth in Lambert's Championship starting XI.
Drury has been at City for more than nine years and made more than 300 appearances, but Smith's arrival indicates that it's survival of the strongest at Carrow Road.
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That challenge for the newcomer, as Lambert admits, is a sizeable one.
“It's huge - because the way Adam Drury played last season,” said Lambert. “He was outstanding and Steven will compete with Adam. “That needed competition for people to play well.
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“I don't have it and if I just have one left-back and one right-back then I think they will become too complacent and that's what I try and generate, people to keep people in the team and it is up to the two of them to fight each other to get in. I knew about him when he was at Rangers. He is still relatively young in footballing terms. He has played some massive games before so coming here doesn't really faze me as to what I am going to get from him.
“It's like everything when you bring in a new player, they have to earn the right to get in the side, but he's taken the challenge on, which is great. He will be enthusiastic to play the game and I am delighted to get him.”
Smith says he's looking forward to the battle with Drury.
“It's a challenge I am ready for,” he said. “I spent a lot of time watching games and not being involved in squads and stuff like that - it is something I am really looking forward to. You have got to respect the players that played at this club last season and got them back into this league, they did a great job and they deserve a crack at this league as well, so there will be competition for places everywhere and I'm looking to give them that competition.”
The 24-year-old from Bellshill - the same part of Glasgow which produced former City defender Malky Mackay - made his debut for Rangers in 2004, but a little over two years later suffered groin problems that sidelined him for 16 months. He forced his way back into the Rangers first team in April 2008 and was part of the side which won the league and cup double, but again suffered injuries during the summer which sidelined him until November.
He started seven league games last season - including the Old Firm derby in March - and also played in the Scottish League Cup final win over St Mirren.
However, both Lambert and Smith say the injury problems are a thing of the past.
“I'm pretty sure he has got over that,” said Lambert. “It is never easy being out the length of time he was out and then you get thrown into an Old Firm game, it's unbelievable, but (Rangers manager) Walter Smith obviously saw something and put him back in, which is great.”
Smith added: “That was a long time ago. I've been fit for a long time. When you've been fit for a long time it's hard to get back in a side that's been winning, that was the main problem. I've been fit a long time and I am itching to be playing regular football again.
“I think it is another huge club. I grew up at Rangers and I had a great time there, but it went a bit stale and it's time to move on. I came down and met the manager, I've seen the training ground and seen the stadium and if you are moving to another football club from Rangers and you need all the options, the great training ground, the great stadium, the fan base, then this is the place you're going to come.”