Newcastle United's Alan Smith signs for MK Dons
Newcastle United's Alan Smith has joined League One Milton Keynes Dons on loan for the rest of the season.
Injuries have forced the versatile 31-year-old down the pecking order at St James' Park, where his five-year contract expires this summer.
"I believe adding his character to our team could be the difference in helping us achieve our promotion ambitions," said Dons boss Karl Robinson.
Smith has played 77 times since his £6m move from Manchester United in 2007.
"Alan Smith is a player of great quality and I am delighted we have been able to get this deal over the line," Robinson told mkdons.com.
"His talent is undoubted and the experience he will bring into the dressing room is unrivalled.
"This is certainly a signing that will raise a few eyebrows but, having spoken to Alan Pardew, I know he's determined to help make MK Dons a Championship club.
"He will fit into our style of football and will add another element to our front four."
Smith is reportedly one of Newcastle's highest earners and it has been claimed that Dons will pay in the region of £2,500 per week towards the former England international's £60,000 wages, with his parent club continuing to fund the rest.
"I would publicly like to thank Alan Pardew and Newcastle United for going the extra mile to help us complete this deal," added Robinson.
Smith's last start for Newcastle came in January 2011, when he limped off after 36 minutes in his side's 1-1 draw against Sunderland. And he has had just six minutes of first-team football this season in two late appearances as a substitute, the most recent of them in last month's 4-2 loss against Norwich.
In an interview in January with the Sun, Smith admitted that he has been more like a head cheerleader than a player this season, but is fit again and still has ambitions of playing regularly.
"I'm not happy just to stay and pick up my wages," said Smith. "It's not what I'm about. I put it in every week in training.
"I can talk to other clubs with my contract being up and, if I have to go, wages won't come into consideration.
"I was out for 18 months because of injury at Manchester United and had that ankle break at Sunderland playing for Newcastle but I'm absolutely fine now.
"I can still do a good job in the Premier League or the Championship - I just need that chance."
Smith made his name in attack for Leeds United, the club he has supported since a boy, before a £7m move to Old Trafford in 2004.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson initially used Smith, who has 19 England caps, to lead the line at Old Trafford but converted him into a ball-winning midfielder, a role in which he made 43 appearances, netting seven times.
But his career suffered a major setback in 2006 when he broke his left leg and dislocated his ankle for United in an FA Cup fifth round defeat against Liverpool.
Since his move to Newcastle, a combination of injuries and managerial changes have restricted his first-team opportunities.