LIONS boss Neil Harris feels Harry Smith has the right people around him to guide the former non-league striker’s career.
The 21-year old made it a week to remember by scoring on his league debut in the 4-0 win over Bristol Rovers after getting a brace on his competitive debut in Tuesday night’s win over Luton Town.
And Harris believes his own experience of non-league fooball, as well as Lee Gregory and Steve Morison's, will be positive for Smith’s development.
“Harry (Smith) won’t look out of place because he is a good player.” Harris said. “He has had to adapt having played non-league football for a few years and having never been a pro.
“He has had to catch up fitness-wise, and he has had to learn how to be a good pro and what it means to be a good professional footballer. Doing the dirty side of things such as getting in early and staying late, doing the gym work as well as going out and enjoying yourself on the training pitch.
“He’s had to adjust, and it takes people time. I learnt that myself coming from non-league. Having myself as well as Steve Morison and Lee Gregory who all came from non-league has really helped him settle.”
After Saturday’s victory, Harris confirmed Morison will be out for around six weeks with a knee injury and the manager feels he has good options as cover in the striker’s absence. Harris was pleased with Smith’s performance, and praised Gregory and winger Fred Onyedinma for their input in the win.
“No one is going to take Steve Morison’s place,” Harris said. “He's an outstanding leader and player, but we have to find different ways to play.
“People have to step up in his absence over the next five or six weeks. Today was a good start, I was pleased with a lot of my players.
“It wasn't just Harry Smith coming in as a target man, Lee Gregory led the line fantastically well.
“I spoke to Lee beforehand and said: ‘you haven't got your mate looking after you anymore, you have to lead the line’, and Harry has to help.”
Harris added: “It was a big judgment call playing Harry, I could have played Aiden O’Brien up there or Fred Onyedinma – both played really well on Tuesday night.
“Next week at Bolton against two big centre halves, it might be different, it might be two quick ones up there.
“Aiden, Harry and Lee took their goals well, Fred’s performance and pace was a positive. David Worrall came on and put his best performance in for a long time when he came off the bench. I've got options, which is pleasing.
“We showed that quality last year, I don't think we are a team people particularly like to play against.
“We aren't always the best footballing team but we are competitive. We have great team spirit in the dressing room.”
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