Thus far, in this series, we've looked at some big stars. Marco Reus and Leandro Damiao are players who are highly regarded full internationals plying their trade in the top division of their respective countries. We're going to take a departure from that today and examine Alex Smithies. Smithies is an English goalkeeper currently playing for League One side Huddersfield Town.
If you're not familiar with Smithies, you can be forgiven. He's spent career at Huddersfield in League One, making 112 appearances for the Terriers. Smithies made his first team debut at 17, in 2007, and became Huddersfield's regular first team keeper at the end of the 2008-2009 season.
The following season Smithies was the only player to start every game for the Terriers. He made 48 starts, keeping 17 clean sheets and allowing only 56 goals overall, and helped the club reach the League One playoffs. Smithies 2010-11 season was shortened by knee injuries, he made only 22 appearances, and those same injuries have prevented him from making any appearances this season.
Smithies has been capped at several youth levels for England, but has yet to receive a cap at the U-21 level, mostly due to injuries. At times he has been linked with moves to Premier League clubs, namely Stoke City and Aston Villa. There's little question that Smithies has the talent to be a top class goalkeeper. A January move may be out of the question though, because the 21 year-old will only return to full training around Christmas.
Brad Friedel has providing Tottenham Hotspur with some consistent goalkeeping performances this season, but at 40 years old, it may not be a bad idea for Spurs to pursue a long-term solution at the goalkeeping position. Smithies might be that player. Smithies is not David de Gea, who came in and was the starter right away. Smithies would, more than likely, deputize for Friedel for a year or two before taking over full-time.
Smithies ability to command his area has been lauded by many scouts. For such a young player this sort of command is uncommon. We've seen de Gea struggle with that same thing and in the Premier League it's an invaluable skill. Additionally, Smithies ability as a shot stopper is very good as is his handling. The thing that I have been most impressed with about Smithies is his positioning. He always seems to find himself in the right place at the right time.
Smithies is fairly good sized. He, like Friedel, is 6'2" and right around 200 lbs. He's not nearly as big as Asmir Begovic, Wayne Hennessey, or Joe Lewis, but his athleticism is good enough to make up for any size deficiencies. Another advantage is that Smithies in English and thus would qualify as a home gown player, though not one trained at Tottenham Hotspur, which make squad rules much easier to comply with.
I have two worries with Smithies. First, his injury history. He's played nine total games in this calendar year. We all know how devastating knee injuries can be to players careers. Maybe, with the general lack of activity keepers have, the injury won't affect him, but any loss of explosiveness could be a hindrance to Smithies career. The second, and most important, worry is that Smithies is English. There is a massive amount of pressure heaped on English keepers and most of them get an unfair amount of stick. Robert Green, Ben Foster, and Paul Robinson are all solid goalkeepers who have faced the wrath of the English press. I don't envy Smithies having to face that same amount of pressure.
Smithies could come to Tottenham for cheap, probably no more than £3 million. Making him a much more affordable and realistic option than some of the other young keepers like Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Asmir Begovic, etc. This seems like the kind of move Levy would make. The young English keeper would certainly be a good acquisition for Spurs.