Smith: Magpies are ready for Salford challenge

Alan Smith
Alan Smith

Notts County player-coach Alan Smith says concentration will be key as the Magpies prepare to visit Salford City in the FA Cup tonight (Friday)

City, from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division, will be out to cause a huge shock in front of the television cameras, urged on by their ‘famous five’ club owners, former Manchester United stars Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Gary and Phil Neville.

But Smith, who was a teammate of the quintet at Old Trafford between 2004 and 2007, says County’s eye must be on the prize and not distracted by the media circus currently surrounding their hosts.

He said: “It will need to be a combative and resolute performance from us, and one that probably requires a lot of concentration in terms of forgetting what it’s all about and concentrating on the fact it is just a game of football.

“We’ve got to focus on ourselves, not get involved in whatever else is going on.

“We’ve just got to keep our minds on our ultimate goal, which is to get through to the second round.

“All the hype really is on them, on the background and the build-up to Salford with the TV documentary and so on.

“For us, it’s a case of we are on a good run and we’d be kicking ourselves if we went there and let ourselves down.

“It’s on TV and there’s an opportunity for a lot of our players to show people what they’re capable of.”

Salford are currently in the fourth in the Northern Premier League but were beaten 2-1 in the FA Trophy by Nantwich Town last weekend.

Smith said: “We know enough about them.

“I know the five lads from Manchester United are involved in it – as everyone in the world seems to know!

“But in terms of their players, we know as we know about most teams; we’ve done our research.

“We watch videos about every team we play, so the background work has been done.

“We’ll be going there and approaching it exactly the same as we’d approach any league game; as we approach Portsmouth or Bristol Rovers or Exeter the weeks before.”

Smith also paid tribute to his former United teammates ahead of Friday’s encounter.

He said: “The one thing they’ve all got is the experience of working under Sir Alex, who developed Man United from what it was to what it is now.

“In terms of the football, they’ve obviously all had such great careers. And I always judge people’s careers on longevity and how long they can stay in the game, and if they can be sustained at the top level.

“For those five to do so well, not just do well as players but as people as well, they are a credit to the football club which brought them through.”