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Smith: "Atmosphere is hard to compare with my previous clubs"

After training for the first time after three days off, Swedish midfielder Eric Smith took time out during the international break to field questions from the Hamburg media.

Eric Smith on…

…his current fitness level: "I think I'm getting very close to 100 per cent. It wasn't a big injury but obviously it kept me from playing for three games, so it takes some time to get back to full fitness. I think I'm really close to being there now, though, and it's good that I have almost two weeks now to be able to train and get fit again. I'd say I'll be back to 100 per cent in time for the next game."

…being top of the table: "It's obviously our goal to stay top of the table until the end of the season but I think we can't afford to start thinking about that already, we need to take one game at a time. The three points are important in every game, but we need to focus on the first game back next week. We have to focus on what's in front of us, and that's the game at Rostock. It's going to be another important three points there, same as it is against Werder Bremen."

…the strengths of Hansa Rostock: "I think they've developed well over the course of the season. They had a tough start but have got better and better as the season has gone on, so it's going to be a really difficult away game for us. It's also a very important game for our fans. We have to be 100 per cent ready. If we're lacking five per cent, we aren't going to get the three points there."

…his susceptibility to injury: "I think I've been a bit unlucky with my injuries. It's sometimes like a chain reaction when you've had a small injury and it affects other parts of the body, but I think I'm in a good place now. I've been here a year now and the physios know my body better and I know my body better, so we understand a bit better how to treat my body to avoid as many injuries as possible. I'm a pretty tall player, so the games affect me a little bit differently than some of the other guys, but I think we have a good plan now."

…scoring his first senior goal for Halmstad BK, aged just 17: "I don't think I really understood what was happening when I scored. I was pretty young back then and so to score just after coming on was quite strange. Everything was so new as well, but my job is more to stop the opposition scoring rather than to score goals myself (he laughs)."

…the chances of him getting his first goal in an FCSP shirt: "I had one shot against Dresden and I think it was the first I've had in I don't know how many years (he laughs). I play in a defensive position and my job is more about helping the central defenders out by trying to win the ball lower down the pitch, so I think it's pretty natural that I don't get that many opportunities to score. I operate in a defensive role as a No6 and my job is to make it hard for the other team to counterattack, which we had some problems with in some games but have got better now, but that's my main job in this position."

…having three days off: "I was at home in Sweden, and we had the same weather as here. It was amazing to be able to see my family again. It had been a long time since I'd last seen my parents, my sister and my grandparents, so it was really good to get some energy from them and now all my focus lies on what's ahead."

…playing in front of almost a full house against Heidenheim: "It was an amazing atmosphere. I think we had some games where it was 50 or 60 per cent full, and even that felt amazing. It's hard to compare with what I experienced at my previous clubs. It's a magical feeling. I hadn't trained much before the Heidenheim game but I managed to play for about 80 minutes and I think that without fans it would probably have only been about 45 or 60 minutes. They give you a few extra percentage points. The results at the Millerntor this season speak for themselves and the fans are really important for us."

…the results coming back from an international break this season (1 win, 1 draw, 2 defeats): "I hope we'll do better this time, of course. I think one of the most important things is that you always learn from your mistakes and take them on board so they make you better. We can't afford to relax now and I think everyone is on their toes and we'll see that in the next game."

Photos: Witters

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