Socceroos left-back Brad Smith acknowledges his 2016-17 campaign with Bournemouth was a “difficult season” after struggling for game-time but believes he’s learnt a lot from it.
Smith, 23, only managed five appearances in the Premier League for the Cherries after his off-season £6million move from Liverpool.
The Sydney-born talent was unable to dislodge long-term Bournemouth left-back Charlie Daniels and was left to warm the pine for the majority of the campaign.
Smith moved to Bournemouth with hopes of regular Premier League football, after a breakthrough 2015-16 season at Liverpool where he made 10 appearances in all competitions.
“It was quite a difficult season for me personally,” Smith said.
“It’s obviously tough to go into a new team and a team that’s been together for five years and come up the ranks with the manager.
“It was difficult for me to get a good run of games in. I think I’ve learnt a lot. With the manager I’ve grown a lot.
“Going into pre-season after these games and the tournament, I’ll go in fit and hopefully get a good chance at the start of the season.”
Despite his lack of game-time at club level, Smith has played in all of Australia’s third round 2018 World Cup qualifiers, starting six of the seven games.
He has competed with Alex Gersbach, Jason Davidson and Aziz Behich for the left-back spot, with the latter included in the latest camp after playing regularly in Turkey with Bursaspor.
Smith is no certainty to hold his spot, particularly if coach Ange Postecoglou persists with the 3-4-3 formation.
Despite that, Smith said Australia played UAE “off the park” with the new formation and was happy with where the side was placed in qualifying despite the urgent need for wins.
Australia faces Saudi Arabia in a must-win qualifier in Adelaide on Thursday.
“We’re in a good place,” he said.
“We’re still undefeated and coming in with good form.
“I think it’s a very important game and on our home soil we know what to expect.”