Striker backs former Pompey team-mates for a Wembley spot

Michael Smith will be settled in front of a television cheering from afar.

Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 6:52 pm
Michael Smith, centre, applauds the Pompey fans who travelled to Hartlepool on his last day at the club

And he has backed the team-mates he left behind to dispose of Plymouth to reach Wembley.

The 24-year-old bid farewell to Paul Cook and his squad following the penultimate league game at Hartlepool.

That 2-0 success brought an end to a loan spell that consisted of 16 appearances and four goals.

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Yet Smith retains an interest in how his former club fares as they kick-off against Plymouth on Thursday night night (7.45pm) in the first leg of their play-off semi-final.

The striker was part of the Swindon side who lost in the League One final last term.

And he believes Cook’s side possess the talent to book their place at Wembley.

He said: ‘Pompey have more than enough to beat Plymouth and get through.

‘It is a crime they haven’t won promotion automatically with the quality in the changing room and the crowds they pull in every week.

‘I don’t see why they cannot win the two matches, we should have beaten Plymouth in the league last month.

‘That’s football, you win some, you lose some, and it’s so frustrating because we could have put ourselves in a strong position by beating them that day.

‘Regardless, the manager has had a really good season and this is what you expect from a Paul Cook team.

‘He has put together a really good blend of players who work hard on the training pitch and I am sure it shows on a Saturday.

‘I don’t know where I will be to watch it on television, but I will definitely be cheering them on somewhere.

‘I am confident they can get to Wembley – and then I would love to be in the stadium watching.’

Last season, Smith scored twice in a second leg 5-5 draw with Sheffield United, going through 7-6 on aggregate.

That Blades side included Marc McNulty and Kieron Freeman, with Michael Doyle and Ben Davies unused substitutes.

But a 4-0 Wembley defeat to Preston ensured the Robins failed to earn promotion to the Championship.

Smith added: ‘We played in a crazy game against Sheffield United but you can’t really learn much from days like that, it was mad.

‘I learnt a lot from playing at Wembley, though, the occasion overawed everyone and I wouldn’t let that happen again.

‘I just hope Portsmouth can do it, they have experience, tenacity in midfield, goals in them, and a solid back four.’