STALWART Adam Smith has revealed there is nothing “personal” to the battle for Cherries’ starting right-back spot, with the club’s longest serving player competing with old friend Ryan Fredericks.
Both full-backs came up the ranks through Tottenham Hotspur's academy, with Smith two age groups above summer signing Fredericks.
Before Fredericks’ debut at home against Wolves at the end of August, the pair had never played a competitive game together, however.
Reflecting on his friendship with Fredericks, Smith told the Daily Echo: “I came through the youth team at Spurs and the reserves at Spurs with Ryan – I know him really well, get along with him really well.
“This is the first competitive football club that I’m at with him.”
The right-back spot arguably gives head coach Gary O’Neil the most headaches when it comes to selection, with Smith and Fredericks also battling it out with Jack Stacey for the starting berth.
Former West Ham man Fredericks missed the trip to Newcastle due to injury, with O'Neil stating after the game he'd hoped to have the defender back "fairly quickly".
“It's not personal, is it?”, restarted the 31-year-old.
“We got three right backs. That's what you want as a player - you want competition. It keeps you on your toes.
“We’re just fighting for one spot. (Against Nottingham Forest) I played right center-half, and he (Fredericks) was right wingback and that worked well.”
A team-player, Smith has been deployed in a variety of positions over the years, including left-back and as a centre-half in a back three.
As such, O’Neil has found one solution – by playing both defenders, with Fredericks more advanced as a wing-back, having Smith tuck in as a third centre-back.
He added: “What I'm most used to is a four, playing right back.
“But in the Premier League I think you have to be able to play five at the back.
“Right centre-half I’ve played there a few times now, so I'm getting used to it.
“It's not something I'm 100% comfortable with yet, but each time I play there, I do feel much more comfortable, especially against Forest.
“I felt quite comfortable in the second half. Right-back is where I have played for years, that is what I feel more comfortable in.
“But right centre-half, it's feeling better each game.”
But does Smith put his name forward when a position needs filling?
“No,” he quickly replies with a big smile.
“I play left back quite a bit. It's not a position that I really want to play, to be honest.
“If the manager asks me to play there I’ll play there.
“My position is right back, but obviously managers play me different positions, which I don't have a problem with, but I wouldn't hold my hand up, definitely to play left back.”