I think I’ve answered a few critics! – Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Jordan Smith on his season so far


Jordan Smith accepts there is one particular area of his game which has come under scrutiny since he broke into the Nottingham Forest team.

Slowly but surely, though, he hopes he is starting to answer a few of his critics.

It has been little more than eight months since the young goalkeeper made his debut for the Reds – coming on as a substitute to replace the injured Stephen Henderson during a 5-1 drubbing at Norwich City in February.

Since then, Smith has held down the number one spot at the City Ground, starting this season as he finished the last – as Mark Warburton’s first-choice shot-stopper.

But with the manager favouring a passing style of football, questions have been raised about the 22-year-old’s distribution.

It is something he continues to work on. And he has already noticed considerable improvement.

“I definitely feel I’ve got better,” said Smith. “If you look at the first three games of the season that I played compared to the last three, I’m sure people who love their statistics will certainly see a massive improvement in that area.

“There was the question of whether I could even kick it a few weeks ago, and then – I’m not saying it was a good thing – but on Saturday (against Burton Albion) I kicked a couple that went straight through to their goalkeeper! So I think I’ve answered a few critics with that one!

Jordan Smith claims a cross comfortably for the Reds against Burton

“It’s a certain style that we want to try to play. Attack starts with me and defence starts at the front. It’s a case of getting that balance right and looking at when we can play.

“The gaffer tells us to be brave and not reckless, so that’s something I’m learning a lot.

“I’ve never been involved in training with the outfielders so much since the manager’s come in. It’s something I’m enjoying and relishing the challenge of.

“I’m absolutely loving it this season,” he continued. “I got a bit of a taste of first-team football last season and managed to string a few games together, which is pleasing.

“To be the number one this season is just a dream come true.

“But it’s important we kick on and start to pick things up a little bit because it’s what this club deserves.

“I’m enjoying myself, but at the same time, it’s important to realise there is a job to do which we need to go and execute.”

Forest certainly got the job done at the weekend.

Going into the clash with Nigel Clough’s Brewers on the back of a defeat to bitter rivals Derby County and a run of one win in five Championship games had left Warburton under some pressure.

Goalscorer Barrie McKay holds up a shirt for Forest fan Dylan Barker

A few fans were calling for the Reds boss’ head.

Smith admits it is difficult to ignore everything which goes on in the world of social media, but in the end the 2-0 win showcased it in a different light.

The story of Forest fan Dylan Barker, who lost his battle with cancer on Sunday, had touched staff and players at the club. And when Barrie McKay opened the scoring against Burton, he held up a shirt honouring the 20-year-old.

“There’s certain things that you can’t hide away from and you see certain bits, but at the same time, you have to put that to the back of your mind because it’s a profession and a job that we have to do,” Smith said when asked about some of the comments concerning his manager on social media.

“I wouldn’t say it weighs too heavily in terms of ‘we’ve got to do this for certain reasons’, apart from, I will mention, Dylan Barker. Our thoughts go out to his family.

“From that side of it, we’re really pleased that we got that result for him. Barrie dedicating his goal was just a nice touch.

“Social media does have an effect, but I think that proves it can have such a positive effect.

He added: “We’re a unit. I think everyone in the squad has bought into the idea of the way the manager wants to play football and the way he wants to run the football club as a whole.

“It does seem that we get better results when we are under more pressure, funnily enough, thinking back to some moments of last season.

Mark Warburton before kick-off against Burton Albion

“We want to get results for ourselves and for the manager all the time, it’s just a shame we’re probably not a bit more consistent in that area.”

Ahead of their trip to Hull City on Saturday, Forest will now hope last weekend’s result can prove something of a turning point.

“It was very important. We needed to show that we could bounce back from that disappointing result at Derby,” Smith said. “The result was the main thing.

“It probably took us a little bit of time to get going and put in the performance we knew we needed, because Burton were a bit stalwart.

“But we scored two good goals and got a clean sheet as well, which I’m very pleased with personally.

“It was a better performance from us and was really important to get three points.

“We’ve watched it back and we don’t actually think the performance against Derby was too bad, but it’s a derby day defeat and a defeat regardless. So it was very important that we came back and got a win, kind of by any means necessary, but I think it was a bit more pleasing on the eye.

“The two sort of married up – the performance and the result, which is very important.”

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