Alex Smith would love to fill the void left in the Wellington Phoenix midfield through the retirement of Tim Brown, but for now he is just delighted to have some security.
Smith today signed a new one-year deal with the Phoenix, and while some players would hesitate to call that secure it is a major step forward for the English-born player.
After joining the Phoenix as an injury replacement player at the beginning of last season, Smith signed four short-term contracts with the club while going on to make 24 appearances.
Add to that the contract he signed with Gold Coast United, only to have it cancelled pre-season to make room for Dutch striker Maceo Rigters, and it is easy to see why Smith always felt uncertain about his footballing future.
"It was pretty unsettling at times, not knowing if another contract was in the offing, but that is all behind me now," Smith said.
"Now I know I'm here for the season, and hopefully beyond, I can settle down and concentrate on my game.
"I felt I had a good first season and got to know everyone so I just can't wait for pre-season training to begin."
Last season head coach Ricki Herbert at various times used Smith in midfield, up front and out wide. Now he would like the opportunity to settle down in one position.
"That, of course, is up to Ricki and I'm happy to play wherever he sees fit," Smith said.
"But if you can nail down one position it definitely helps your game."
Asked if he would like to take on the role left vacant by Brown's departure, Smith was enthusiastic.
"I would love to try and fill Brownie's boots. Not be him, but have a similar role.
"Brownie was a master of getting into goal-scoring positions from midfield, and while I see myself more as someone who brings the ball through I know I can score goals.
"This season I couldn't get forward as much as I would have liked, but basically I love to play anywhere in the middle of the park where the action is."
Smith is also keen for his partner, Kristen, to join him in Wellington this time round.
"She came to Wellington whenever she got time off from her job with Qantas and we had a lot of fun, but she is looking at making it permanent so we will see what we can work out.
"If you are settled off the field as well it can only help you perform to your ability on it."
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- © Fairfax NZ News
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