Millwall manager Gary Rowett breaks down his call to extend Matt Smith’s Den stay


Gary Rowett is confident that Matt Smith can have a vital impact for Millwall next season after the experienced striker agreed to extend his Den stay.

The 32-year-old was set to be out of contract next month but has committed to another 12 months in SE16.

And Rowett, who will bring in at least one more forward in this transfer window, knows just how effective an attacking weapon Smith can be.

The former QPR, Fulham and Leeds United frontman made 29 appearances – seven of those starts – in the 2020-21 season, a broken foot ruling him out from early March.

Smith was top-scorer for the Lions in the campaign before that, netting 13 times. Twenty-one of his 40 appearances then came off the bench.

“He is the best impact sub in the division – and the most reluctant,” said Rowett. “That’s why he is the best, because he wants to start every game and prove he’s the best striker at the club. Not every player is like that.

“I have to choose the best way for me to play him in the team and I have to manage Matt sometimes, because he is desperate to play. You can’t be a top striker unless every time you don’t start it doesn’t hurt a little bit. That is why Matt Smith has been so effective for us.

“At the end of the season we had injuries and were desperate for goals. There is no doubt he’d have started more games. When he got the broken foot against Birmingham we had won a couple of games. His performances just tailed off a little bit because he was playing in pain. I think he played on with it for about a month.

“Probably for a third of our season Matt was either injured or not fully fit. Fair play to him for trying to get through it.

“We’ve spoken about searching for goals and having as many goals in the team as we can. Matt got 13 in the season before last and he didn’t have a massive amount of starts.

“Also the crowd play a part as well. I remember the Charlton game and a little bit of pressure the crowd put on the opposition in the last few minutes – Matt scored from a set-piece.

“So you also need to think about the crowd for some of the goals we scored when there is the pressure of putting balls in the box in the last 10 or 15 minutes.”

Smith netted three goals last season to help earn a 2-1 win at Reading and draws against Cardiff and Bournemouth.

“He scored some important goals and if he manages to get valuable ones again then this will be worthwhile,” said Rowett.

“I know Matt doesn’t ever want to be known as an impact player, because he is a better player than that, but he is just as effective coming on as starting games.

“He is a really intelligent guy and he trains really well. He is a really good team player. We want to improve those attacking areas and we will be bringing in other players.”

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