ALEX SMITHIES’ dream is to become the first Town player to represent England since Ray Wilson way back in 1964.
But for the moment, the 19-year-old junior international is firmly focused on keeping a second successive clean sheet when Town visit Millwall tomorrow.
Smithies’ form so far this campaign has brought widespread acclaim, with England Under 21 chief Stuart Pearce coming to watch him in person and Town manager Lee Clark predicting he will one day win full international honours.
“The manager has said that to me as well, and it’s a massive compliment and a big boost to hear his words,” said Smithies.
“He’s also told me that ultimately it’s all down to me, that I have the potential to progress, but that I must keep working at it.
“I’m lucky in that we have great coaching staff here, and John Vaughan, in particular, has been fantastic for me.
“I learn new things every day, and I’m more than happy to be at this club, which is why I signed a new (four-year) contract last season.
“I’m Huddersfield born and bred, I love this club and I want to go as far as possible with them. If I can play for England while also playing for Town, that would be the ultimate.
“But for the moment, my focus is on taking each successive game as it comes, keep my place and help us push for promotion.”
Town chalked up their first clean sheet of the season in last Saturday’s home draw with Brentford, and Smithies was quick to praise his colleagues’ contribution.
“It’s a team effort, and we’re very well led by Peter Clarke,” he added of the centre-back signed from Southend in the summer.
“His influence on the pitch is massive and he’s great in the changing room too, keeping both the team spirit and work ethic up.
“It’s great to have a player like him in front of you, and you know he won’t take any unnecessary chances.”
Looking ahead to his first trip to Millwall’s New Den, Smithies said: “We’d been waiting quite a while for a clean sheet, and now we want some more.
“As a defence, we are always fighting for a clean sheet, and that’s our own little battle during a game.
“In most matches, the lads up front have been doing their job, because the goals have been going in, so we have to ensure we do ours too.
“From our point of view, the ideal result is to win with a clean sheet, and having done one half against Brentford, we want to do both tomorrow.”
Town make the first of four League I visits to London (the others are to Charlton on October 17, Leyton Orient on March 20 and Brentford on April 10) aiming for a third straight away win.
They’ve seen off Rotherham in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and MK Dons in League I and now aim to inflict a fourth straight defeat on injury-ravaged Millwall.
Having lost at Barnet in the JPT, Kenny Jackett’s injury-hit side slumped by the same 2-0 scoreline at both Bristol Rovers and Gillingham to slip to 16th.
Town juniors host Wolves in the FA Premier Academy League at Storthes Hall (11.00).