Gary Rowett reckons that Matt Smith is the best impact sub in the Championship.
The experienced forward came off the bench to equalise for Millwall in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at AFC Bournemouth.
Smith, 31, has made five starts for the SE16 outfit this season.
His midweek goal was the fourth time he has netted in the current campaign, with two of those coming in the EFL Cup.
Smith was signed by previous Lions boss Neil Harris and has faced a battle for a first-team spot due to Rowett largely implementing a three-man defence with wing-backs – relying on a mobile frontman who can press.
The former QPR and Fulham man was Millwall’s top-scorer last season with 14 goals in all competitions – starting 20 of their 46 Championship matches.
Rowett said: “In terms of doing his job and delivering for us, he has delivered. I cannot criticise anything he does.
“He is what he is – a specific type of striker. But what he does is impact games. In terms of an impact sub he is probably the best in the division and that shows in the statistics.
“What motivates Matt is that he wants to start and prove people wrong – and add value from the start of games. That is the challenge any manager has because it is not always possible from him to start in our way of playing.
“But he is a great guy – I really mean that. And the lads love him. He is an integral part of the squad and he effects games – that’s all he can do.
“If I choose not to start him for different reasons then all he can do is come on and impact games. We’ve seen him do that a number of times.”
Smith is due to be out of contract at the end of this season.
“I’m sure a lot of clubs like Matt – the same way we do,” said Rowett. “He is fabulous at what he does.
“I’m sure there will be interest in a player like that. But he is our player.”
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