Michael Smith signs new two year deal
Michael Smith today agreed a new two year contract with the club and looks set to be the first of a number of players to agree new deals that will extend their stay at the Memorial Stadium.
Rovers’ Chairman Nick Higgs expressed his delight at securing the defender on a new contract.
“We are delighted that Michael has committed himself to the club for a further two years, as we feel he is a great young prospect
“He has shown, this season, what an asset he is to the club and he has developed into a very good player. We think there is still more to come from him and that he will continue to improve.
“He has gone out and made the right back position his own, and fully deserves all the plaudits he has received for his performances this season.”
Manager John Ward said this on completion of the deal: “I have been really pleased with Michael’s attitude and approach to the game since I have worked with him.
“He has become a regular in the right back position and has improved his game, and both he and I think there is room for further improvement, which is great.
“He wants to try to improve as a player with Bristol Rovers, which is good news for everyone.
“He has been an absolute diamond in terms of our back five and has played a very big part in us getting ourselves into a safe position.”
Highly rated Northern Ireland defender Smith became our eighth summer signing in June 2011.
Michael, who is half Canadian, joined IFA Premiership side Ballymena in a £5,000 deal from Ballyclare Comrades in 2009.
The 24 year old, who has completed a Sports Science degree, adapted well to his first season playing in England and training on a full time basis.
Strong in the tackle and a player who likes to get forward, he made a number of substitute appearances on the right of midfield during his first season with the club.
This season has seen him establish himself as a first team regular, at right back, particularly since the arrival of John Ward as manager.
A Northern Ireland Youth International, Michael has been tipped to receive a full cap for his country in the future.
Michael made his Rovers league debut on the opening day of last season and has, to date, made a total of 54 league appearances.
On signing his new contract, ‘Smudge’ had this to say: “It’s a relief to get a new contract signed with two games of this season still to go.
“We have all seen the progress we have made under the new gaffer and we hope to continue that next season.
“If we can keep the nucleus of this squad together and perhaps add one or two more players then there’s no reason why we can’t make a push for promotion next season.
“I’ve enjoyed two years here already and I’m really enjoying my football at the moment and I hope that, as a team, we can continue the progress we have made this season.”