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Smallwood hopes all the hard work pays off

Richie eager to play his part at Southend - and in successful season!

5 August 2017

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Richie Smallwood hopes to have done enough in pre-season to earn a starting spot in today's curtain-raiser at Southend.

The summer signing from Rotherham, who previously worked under manager Tony Mowbray at Middlesbrough, has impressed during the summer schedule with his tough-tackling, hard-working, no-nonsense approach.

And following five weeks of hard graft on the training pitches, Smallwood is now looking forward to getting the real business underway at Roots Hall.

"We've had a few games, all the hard work is done, so the first week leading up to a new season is always exciting," said the 26-year-old.

"The lads are ready to go now, everyone wants to play on Saturday.

"Since I've come in I've been working towards this weekend and the first game.

"Hopefully I'm selected and then it is up to me to keep up the performances to make sure I stay in the squad.”

Smallwood insists there will be no substitute for hard work this season, which will provide a platform for Rovers' quality in the final third to shine through.

"You need to be hard-working, you need to be organised and you need to have quality in the final third of the pitch and that is what we have," he added.

"So, hopefully, we can put all of our hard work and organisation into the final third and let those boys win the match.

"I've always thought they were a good team when I've played against them.

"You only need to train with them every day to see the real qualities that they have got. Not just on a matchday, but in training every day.

"They are a brilliant set and I think all of the new lads have settled in really well."

Smallwood admits the players are well aware of the expectancy levels placed on the club this season and he believes that home form and a strong start to the campaign will be key.

"At every big club the fans expect you to win games and that is exactly what we want to be aiming to do," he added.

"We are under no illusions, we know it is going to be hard. This league is hard, especially the away games, not one is easy.

"It is a long season and we've got to learn to try and put the points on the board early.

"We need to pick up the wins away and let the home form take care of itself."

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