Much-maligned striker back to face Pompey

Michael Smith returns to Fratton Park on Saturday '“ only this time with the opposition.

Wednesday, 13th December 2017, 9:00 am
Michael Smith in action for Bury against Northampton Picture: Sharon Lucey

The striker endured an unhappy year-and-a-half stay on the south coast, before departing by mutual consent on transfer deadline day.

Within hours he was snapped up by Bury on a two-year deal, seeking footballing rehabilitation following a disappointing period in his career.

The 26-year-old has scored just twice since his Gigg Lane arrival, but has established himself as a regular for the League One strugglers.

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Chris Lucketti’s side suffered a postponement against AFC Wimbledon last weekend, courtesy of adverse weather conditions.

However, Smith is expected to partner loanee Nicky Ajose in attack for the trip to Fratton Park.

Despite a torrid time at Pompey, the striker netted three times in last season’s promotion charge.

That contribution earned him a title winners’ medal and he was present on Southsea Common for the subsequent celebrations – notably performing a cameo on the drums.

Smith, though, never played for the Blues again after a 1-0 home defeat to Exeter in January, being swiftly shipped out on loan to Northampton.

Effectively, it ended a Pompey career at 37 games and 10 goals spread over two spells, the first initially a loan.

Although signed permanently by Paul Cook in the summer of 2016 for an undisclosed fee from Swindon, his performances failed to convince the Fratton faithful and he became a figure of criticism.

However, he did score in three consecutive matches last term, helping earn four points in the process.

There was an 82nd-minute equaliser at Cheltenham, having entered the field as a substitute, while he netted with a superbly-struck goal in the 3-1 win at Luton.

Smith’s final goal in Pompey colours was a late consolation in a 2-1 defeat to Stevenage at Fratton Park in November 2016.

An ankle injury cut short his Northampton spell after two goals in 14 appearances and also sidelined him for a chunk of pre-season.

Upon the Geordie’s return to fitness, Kenny Jackett made it clear he was not part of his plans, instructing he trained with Gary Roberts away from the squad.

Unlike Roberts, though, Smith didn’t feature in any of the pre-season fixtures.

Now the often-maligned striker is back in Bury colours.