Korey Smith will forever be etched in City folklore for scoring the winning goal as Lee Johnson’s side famously defeated Manchester United in a League Cup quarter-final in 2017, writes Gareth Davies.
However, since that undoubted high, the 29-year-old has been beset by injury problems. Firstly, a knee ligament injury saw the combative midfielder miss most of the 2018-19 campaign. After battling his way back to full fitness towards its conclusion, Smith then suffered another serious knock when breaking two bones in his foot after just a handful of games back.
Speaking to The Independent via video call on Wednesday, Smith revealed his upset after being told he had to spend a second extended spell on the sidelines, although the Hatfield-born man used his family as extra motivation to make a full recovery.
“I’ve said before that the first injury was like ‘OK, I’m injured, let’s work hard and get back and put my head down’. I think I did that, played a couple of games and I had a real high, a real buzz,” he began.
“We were around the play-offs and to get another injury after a couple of games, the news when I was told how long I would be out did hit me. There were tears, I can’t lie, and there were doubts as if I could come back.
“I’ve got a family, two young boys watching me and I thought to myself I’m going to give it my best no matter what as anything is possible.
“I think I have done that because they are proud of me, my family is proud of me and I am going to continue working hard.
“My injuries were devastating, but everything happens for a reason and now I have full focus on trying to get into those play-offs with Bristol City.”
Smith made his first team return last November and despite admitting to not being at full fitness since recovery, lockdown has helped the former Norwich City man get fully back up to speed.
“Even before lockdown, I got back in the team and our performances and results started to get better so on a personal note I was happy,” he added. “Obviously I wasn’t 100 per cent, but this lockdown came at a really good time for me as I made sure I worked hard and I was keeping my leg and foot strong.
“I feel good and better than I did before and that is a real positive for me.”
Despite feeling positive on a personal level, Smith felt his side fell well below levels expected, after losing 3-1 to Blackburn Rovers in their first Championship match since March last Saturday.
“It was a poor performance and we’re not hiding from that,” Smith remarked. “We weren’t up to scratch but at the end of the day, we are still in with a chance. We can only get better based on that performance and hopefully we can turn that around against Sheffield Wednesday and the games after that.”