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Smith: "We've maintained our winning mentality and that's important"

The Boys in Brown are back in Hamburg following training camp and resumed training on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we spoke to defensive utility player Eric Smith, who left South Tyrol feeling satisfied and happy that the team have maintained their winning mentality in pre-season.

"I enjoyed it very much," said Eric Smith, commenting on his day off after returning from training camp, "but it wasn't enough to really wind down," he added with a smirk. The Swede did have time, though, to reflect on a busy sojourn in the Passeier Valley, where the Boys in Brown continued their preparations for the new campaign with a host of high-intensity training sessions. After the day off and a long first day of training with a series of photo shoots, a double shift was lined up for Wednesday. "Everyone knows it's the last week of pre-season,” said Smith. “We can see light at the end of the tunnel and I can't wait to contest games where points are at stake again.”

The Boys in Brown have done really well in pre-season so far, winning all six warm-up matches and putting into practice the things they have been working on in training. "It's gone really well on the whole. We've maintained our winning mentality and shown we want to win every game, no matter who we're playing. That's important," Smith continued. After a convincing 7-1 win over Austria Lustenau, further challenges followed against Sabah FC (4-1) and Arminia Bielefeld (2-0), said Smith. "Most of us were able to get 90 minutes in. We're going well and have had hardly any injuries. We can be happy with that for the moment and everyone’s hoping it stays that way, of course," added Smith, who missed games through injury soon after joining the club but has no fitness concerns at the moment and is feeling very good.

Eric Smith and head coach Fabian Hürzeler take advantage of a break in one of the warm-up games for a quick tactical discussion.

Eric Smith and head coach Fabian Hürzeler take advantage of a break in one of the warm-up games for a quick tactical discussion.

The task now is to ensure the players go into the new season having prepared as well as possible. "I try to stay positive all the time, as does everyone else in the squad. We're in the final week and have to keep pushing because that makes everything easier," said the Swede, who goes into the new campaign as vice-captain to Jackson Irvine along with Marcel Hartel. Asked how he’s coping with the new role, Smith said: "It's nothing new. I wore the captain's armband last year when Jackson and Paqa couldn't play, after all."

With Irvine fit again after recovering from a calf injury, he will lead the team out for the final warm-up game against Hapoel Tel Aviv on Saturday. Smith was unable to say much about the opposition, as the analysis of the Israeli top-division club has yet to place, but he did say this: "I'm expecting a tough game. They're a big club. We want to keep our winning mentality going and put in another good performance. We can't afford to think about Kaiserslautern yet, we have to focus on Saturday's game and take the next step there first."

Photos: FC St. Pauli/Witters