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Southend United's Paul Smith hopes for debut against AFC Wimbledon
9:00am Tuesday 4th September 2012 in Blues
PAUL Smith is hoping to get the nod for Southend United’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash against AFC Wimbledon at Roots Hall tonight.
The experienced shot-stopper has been selected on the substitute’s bench since joining Blues at the start of the season.
And he is keen to make his first start this evening.
“It’s been frustrating to say the least for me so far because I came here to play not sit on the bench,” said Smith, 32.
“The manager has been up front and honest about the situation with me but I’ve been training morning and afternoons to ensure I’m ready for a chance when it comes my way, and hopefully that will be tonight.
“Then the aim is to do well and make sure I stay in the side for the rest of the season.”
Smith put pen to paper on a two-year deal when he signed for Southend after being released by Nottingham Forest.
But, after not playing in a single match during pre-season, he has been unable to dislodge the on-loan Cameron Belford from the side.
That could change this evening though as Smith chases more glory in the competition which first helped him make a name for himself when playing for Brentford against Southend back in 2001.
“I think it was the first time I came on for Brentford and was able to make a few saves to help us get through to the final,” said Smith.
“I was on the bench again when we got to the Millennium Stadium but it was still a great experience and shows what is possible in this competition.
“It can also help you build on good results and that’s what we will be looking to do tonight.”
Blues boss Paul Sturrock insists he is unlikely to make too many changes to his team for tonight’s first round encounter but Ryan Hall will definitely not be involved.
“Ryan is still unavailable for this game,” said Sturrock.
“I still don’t know what’s going to happen with him but he definitely won’t be involved tonight.
“We want to go as far as we can in this competition though and won’t be changing things around too much.”
Freddy Eastwood has also been ruled out after his calf injury was worse than first feared, while David Martin (ankle) and Kevan Hurst (eye) both face late fitness tests.
AFC Wimbledon have triumphed just once in their five games so far this season and have already let in 16 goals.
>Just the East Stand will be open for tonight’s fixture at Roots Hall.
Ticket prices have been slashed to £5 adults and £2 concessions for the game and everyone in attendance will receive a free programme.