Nathan Smith is determined to cement his place back in the Port Vale starting 11 ahead of an extremely important run of games.
The young centre-back was dropped to the bench for the first time in over 100 games this season as Vale hosted Crawley Town, and the defender, despite a wealth of competition, is fully focused on regaining his starting position within Aspin’s side.
Now well into September, the Valiants face a run of immensely important games, with two home fixtures either side of the derby, away to Crewe Alexandre.
Smith has expressed his desire to be involved in the Crewe fixture, claiming it is one of the most important fixtures of the season.
He said: “The away fixture at Crewe is always a good one.
“I can remember last year we packed out the stadium with fans – it’s definitely one you want to be involved in.
“You look forward to it at the start of the season, you always look for when the fixture is.
“I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed to be involved in that one.”
Having fallen out of favour of late, Smith has been forced to adapt to a slightly different role within Aspin’s team, but believes the competition for places in the starting 11 is beneficial to the side’s performance.
Though the defender claims it is not as ‘enjoyable’ on the bench, he believes it will only bring the better out of him as he tries to sway the thoughts of the boss in his favour.
He said: “It’s definitely different from being involved in every game.
“It has definitely given me an insight into other things and it’s bringing the better out of me. It’s making me realise what I have to work on more.
“I’m finding it not as enjoyable being on the bench. In training I’m trying my hardest making the gaffer have a tough decision and hopefully after Saturday I can get another run of games going again.”