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Richard Smith Talks About His Future

By: Richard Lord
Date: 25/06/2001

INJURY-PLAGUED Richard Smith, who earlier this month was released by Grimsby, is battling to save his career. After suffering from many back-related problems, the central defender is facing a race against time to return to full fitness after what can only be described as a nightmare 18 months.

"A couple of days before my operation I spoke to Lennie and he told me that the board had said they couldn't afford to pay my wages until I was fit. I can understand that from a business point of view and the people who are paying the wages need a job doing. I was pleased they were going to offer a month-to-month and that's the best I could have hoped for," said Smith to the Saturday Telegraph.

'Big Smudge' continued to speak of his frustration, adding "But it's always difficult when you've got a young family and it's frustrating [to be released] because I can't do anything about being released. If I was fit and had been let go I could ring round and get a new club but now I'm jobless, and I'm not able to do anything about it."

"...There's no reason to think I won't be back..."

The former Leicester player has barely enjoyed a season with the Mariners without an injury since signing under Brian Laws' reign in the 1995/96 season. In Grimsby's successful 97/98 promotion campaign the 30-year old suffered an achilles injury and was forced to sit out the whole season.

More recently he has been under the surgeon's knife in a bid to cure two unrelated back problems, which have hampered his comeback trail. The seriousness of the injuries he has sustained have cast doubt over whether he can resurrect his career, but Smith continues to insist that retirement is not just yet.

"It's in the back of my mind at the moment, come September I'll know and I'll make a decision then if I have to. But the way I feel at the moment there's no reason to think I won't be back. I feel far better than before the operation."

The out-of-contract defender scored his first goal in almost 10 seasons at Wimbledon last year, but apart from that and other appearances against Tranmere and Wycombe, Smith's name has been absent from the team sheet since the Boxing Day defeat at home to Barnsley in the 99/00 season. Despite this, Smith is still ambitious and is eyeing a return in the black and white stripes.

"I don't want to go anywhere. The club has been very good to me but obviously I need to get back and get a contract. It's going to be difficult for the club itself next season and they need everybody involved to get through the season. It's frustrating that I'm not going to be involved, at least at the start, this time around. I'm as frustrated as anything. I can't believe it's come around again. It's like it's never going to end, I just have to get on with it."

Mariners fans will be hoping that Richard Smith makes a full recovery and a return to action sooner rather than not at all.

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