Wantaway Wingate frontman is aiming to stay with the Stones
PUBLISHED: 10:00 31 January 2013
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Striker Leon Smith admits he does not envisage returning to Wingate & Finchley after joining Ryman League rivals Wealdstone on an initial month's loan.
Smith, who netted a hatful of goals in the Blues’ promotion campaign two years ago, is out of favour following a ‘disagreement’ with manager Gary Meakin.
He has told Meakin that he wants to leave the club and is now attempting to regain match sharpness with Gordon Bartlett’s promotion-chasing side in the hope of earning himself a permanent transfer.
“I got injured in September and I was out for a month, then when the new manager came in I wasn’t playing much and we had our disagreement,” Smith told Ham&High Sport.
“Everything changed – he had his own players and he put me on the bench. He had his reasons and I told him that I just wanted to go, really, but nothing happened.
“When I heard that Gordon was interested in taking me on loan I had a smile on my face and said yes, straight away. It’s a decent club with good players and I didn’t need to think twice.
“I’d like to stay [at Wealdstone] until the end of the season – the problem is I’m under contract and I don’t know what happens if I go back to Wingate.
“I’ll try my hardest and we’ll see what happens in the next month. People still know what I’m capable of – it’s only a matter of time before I get back to full fitness, and then they’ll see what I can do.”
Smith, who has so far made two substitute appearances for the Stones, first came to Bartlett’s attention while playing Sunday League football four years ago.
He was invited to train with Wealdstone, but David Norman – then boss at Wingate – persuaded him to move to Summers Lane instead and the striker soon became a key member of the side.
Smith found the net six times in nine games this season prior to his injury and added two more goals soon after Meakin took over from Norman in November.
But the striker’s only start since the turn of the year came in Wingate’s London Senior Cup victory over Haringey Borough and he remains some way short of peak fitness.
“I know Leon’s not match fit,” said Bartlett. “He’s looking a little bit heavy and he needs to work hard on that – but one thing he’s got that we’re lacking in forward areas is pace.
“He has got a massive burst of pace and at the moment he could be very effective coming off the bench. He’s scored goals at this level and, if he gets time, he could be a major threat to the opposition.
“It was ideal timing and we’ll see how it develops. It’s a fresh challenge for Leon as well and it could work for all three parties – that’s why we’ve done it.”