The towering 23-year-old frontman came to national prominence earlier this season with four goals in three FA Cup matches against Liverpool and Everton before Latics eventually bowed out in a fifth-round replay at Goodison Park.
Perhaps of greater significance, Smith bagged the only goal in the back-to-back 1-0 wins over Bury and Yeovil over the past week that mean Lee Johnson's side are a solitary point away from securing their npower League One status.
"Smudge has been good, really good," Croft told Press Association Sport. "He's scored quite a few important goals for us.
"Whether he's been starting or come off the bench he's always managed to do that - crucial goals at crucial times in games for us."
And former Manchester City and Norwich wideman Croft concedes have Smith leading the line makes his job from the flanks a whole lot easier.
"You just have to make sure that you put the ball in the right area and you know if you've got someone like Smudge in there and he's going to attack things," he added.
"He'll win the majority of headers. You know if you put a decent quality ball in that he's going to have a chance of scoring."
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