Defender Manny Smith has been one of the standout players in Notts County’s perfect start to 2014 and Gary Liddle has backed him to maintain his good form.
Liddle, who is currently sidelined with an ankle injury, was an ever present at the heart of defence last term and swept up at the End of Season Awards Night.
In contrast, Smith experienced a rocky 2012.13, after a nasty knee injury on his debut that kept him out for most of the campaign.
The centre-back has struggled to bed himself into the team since that unfortunate incident but has taken his latest chance with both hands.
Smith claimed the Man of the Match award in the weekend’s win against Sheffield United and was in contention for the accolade in the New Year’s triumph over Bradford City.
Watching on from the stands, Liddle is pleased to see Smith showing just what he is capable of in the Black and White stripes.
He said: “Manny’s took his chance and has done well so hopefully he can help us along the way in keeping clean sheets.
“He had a nasty injury last year but he’s over that now and he just needs a run of games.
“When he was at Walsall he was their first choice defender and coming into Notts County he was probably Keith Curle’s preferred partnership with him and Deano [Leacock].
“With his injury it probably didn’t turn out that way but he just needs that run of games now where he can build up that sharpness.
“He is probably our best defensive header of the ball and that can only help when defending and attacking.
“The games, when you’re down at the bottom, they’re going to be scraps but Manny’s the type of player you want in there.
“When teams do boom it long to a big striker, which they seem to have in these lower leagues, then Manny’s the man you want to face them, that’s for sure.”
Smith is set to continue at centre-back in this weekend’s trip to Stevenage.
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COMING TO MAGPIE PLAYER | Look out for an interview with Liddle on Magpie Player on Wednesday morning, which covers the midfielder's injury progress.