Matt Smith aims to respond to the challenge of fresh competition at Leeds United by finishing the season with a streak of form which puts him in line for a new contract.
Smith said he had no intention of allowing the rest of the term to pass him by, despite seeing Leeds sign Connor Wickham from Sunderland and admitting that his own impact at Elland Road had waned since the turn of the year.
The striker is nearing the end of his first season with Leeds and his first year in the Championship, and he voiced frustration at a campaign which “stalled a little bit” for him in January.
Smith served a three-match ban for a red card incurred after 60 seconds on the pitch during a 6-0 hammering at Sheffield Wednesday two months ago and he has failed to start a competitive game for Leeds since then.
United signed Wickham on loan last week, securing the England Under-21 international until the end of the season, and Wickham made his full debut at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday with Smith restricted to the role of an unused substitute.
But Smith, who was a non-league player less than three years ago, is anxious to contribute to the run-in and said he was hopeful of extending a contract which expires in the summer of 2015.
“I’m settled here but I’m the type of character that’s always trying to push myself,” he said. “I’ll never, ever rest and be happy. You always want more and to keep doing better.
“That’s why it’s been particularly frustrating since the Blackburn game (on New Year’s Day when Smith last scored). I feel like the season’s stalled a little bit. I’m not happy with that, I want to keep it going and I don’t want the hard work of the first half to be undone by a sloppy second half. “I’m really eager and concentrating on ending the season well.”
Smith signed a two-year deal when he joined Leeds from Oldham Athletic last summer and he hopes to put himself in line for an extension.
“Being honest, I’d like that,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here and if anyone gets offered a long-term contract at a club like Leeds they’d be overjoyed.
“The thought has crossed my mind and I’d like to put in the performances which might warrant looking into that. That’s up to me at the end of the day and I’m only going to be judged by what I do on the pitch.
“I’m going to give it all I can, keep learning and use all the resources I’ve got here. The difference I can see already from July to March is night and day.”