Brad Smith’s late strike against Exeter City helped Liverpool to settle for a 2-2 draw, forcing them to play in the FA Cup replay at Anfield on Wednesday.
Liverpool sealed a 3-0 victory over Exeter in the FA Cup reply as goals from João Teixeira, Joe Allen and Sheyi Ojo saw Jurgen Klopp’s side move further in the competition. Smith got his first start for the Reds as he featured on the left hand side of the defence and he played for the entire 90 minutes against the League Two side.
The Australian defender, who was out of contract at the club last summer, kept the Reds alive in the competition. The 21-year-old was a free agent last summer after his contract at the Merseyside club expired and despite that, was registered at Liverpool. Things changed for the forgotten left-back as he was handed a new deal in December.
Klopp included him in the squad and he assisted Divock Origi in the Reds’ 6-1 victory over Southampton in the Capital One Cup quarter final clash in the last month. Smith is delighted after be put the troublesome period behind him and is now hoping to revive his Anfield career.
“What happened in the summer [regarding the contract] is in the past. I am just trying to enjoy my football,” Smith told the Liverpool Echo.
“It was great to score and great to get an assist for Divock as well in my first game for a long time. That was a great feeling. I am just enjoying being back with all the lads and I am glad it is going well.”
“Was I worried it was the end? Yes definitely. A lot of things go through your mind when things like that are happening.
“You don’t know what is going to happen, it is hard, hard for your family and friends. The way it has gone it is working out. I was living with my mum at the time and I was speaking to staff at Liverpool throughout the whole time. I am just glad the way it has turned out.”
Liverpool have Alberto Moreno, Joe Gomez and Jose Enrique as the first choice left-backs in the squad, along with Smith. Gomez, signed last summer, is on a long spell on the sidelines after picking up an injury while on international duty.
Enrique has not been a regular inclusion in the starting lineup since when Brendan Rodgers was in charge at Anfield and things have not changed for the defender even after Klopp replaced the former Swansea manager last October.
Smith could challenge Moreno for a place in the starting lineup as left-back. Klopp fielded a young team for the FA Cup tie against Exeter at St James Park earlier this month and the full-back claims he felt like a senior player as he was surrounded by youngsters on the pitch.
“It is difficult. It was the same for a lot of players they hadn’t played with each other and for some of the players coming back off loan it was the first time they had met the manager,” he said.
“It was a challenge to come together quickly and I think we all put a good shift in and it was good to get a replay in the end. I think we showed a lot of heart for such a young team. The pitch was difficult, they were up for it, the young boys were up for it as well and it was good to get the replay.
“I felt a little bit like a senior player. Cameron had played a few times and then you had a couple of senior players like Jose, Bogdan and Christian. They took the lead role, but yes I know I am not the youngest in the group anymore so I tried to help out. It was good.
“We all dug in and it was good. If people were expecting us to fail then that’s up to them, but the boys dug in. They didn’t get what they wanted.”