Swindon boss Di Canio praises 'intelligent' Phil Smith

Phil Smith
Smith has made 131 appearances for Swindon

Swindon manager Paolo di Canio says goalkeeper Phil Smith deserves all the credit for their progression in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

The Robins were held to a 1-1 draw against AFC Wimbledon at the County Ground on Tuesday, which took the game to penalties.

The 31-year-old saved three out of the four spot-kicks to send his side through to the area semi-finals.

"It was intelligent from Phil - he did his job," di Canio told BBC Wiltshire.

And the Italian revealed Smith had benefited from studying the Dons' previous Trophy game against Stevenage, which also went to penalties.

"There was a collaboration between him and Domenico [Doardo, goalkeeping coach]," continued Di Canio.

Conceding has relieved pressure - Di Canio

"Wimbledon in the last round went through on penalties and four of the five who were selected for the penalties today were the same players.

"All the credit goes to Phil because he made three fantastic saves and it means he was [switched] on in his brain and he was professional.

"I'm very happy now as I have two very good goalkeepers."

It was the first time Smith had played since September after he was forced to undergo surgery on a groin injury.

"I had words with him and I told him 'you have to be really professional and honest because if you feel some problems then tell me because I won't bring a second goalkeeper on the bench'," added Di Canio.

"He said 'listen, gaffer, I have no problem. I'm fully fit'. That is what it means to have a professional player, to collaborate and believe in your players - I'm very happy."

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