GMF Exclusive interview: Craig Mackail-Smith

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Peterborough United’s free-scoring striker Craig Mackail-Smith was rewarded for his fine form this season on Sunday night, when he was named the Npower League One Player of the Year at the Football League annual awards ceremony.

The Posh hit man has scored 22 times in the division thus far, and beat off strong competition from Glenn Murray and Bradley Wright-Phillips to claim the prestigious prize.

Mackail-Smith has enjoyed an exceptionally productive last couple of months, with the goals continuing to flow under returning boss Darren Ferguson.

Despite defeat at MK Dons last night, the Cambridgeshire club remain handily placed in the play-off places, although the former Dagenham & Redbridge striker has his sights on an automatic berth.

Transfer speculation is also rife, with the player on the radar of a number of higher division clubs. Norwich have been confirmed, but the £3million-rated player is focused only on firing United into the Championship.

Q: Congratulations on winning the award - were you surprised to get the nod?

A: Thanks. It's great to win such an award and it did come as a bit of a surprise. I was delighted to be shortlisted, because there are some really good players in this division who play good football week in, week out. I am really proud, because it's a huge honour.

Q: You've been in great form all season, but particularly the last few months - what do you put it down too?

A: Everything just seems to be clicking for me of late, which is fantastic. I'm working late on the training ground, keep practicing and hitting the back of the net and that is showing on the pitch.

Q: You lost strike partner Aaron McLean to Hull in January, but that hasn't had the negative impact that some were predicting - why do you think that is?

A: Aaron and I had a great relationship on and off the pitch and a great partnership, but his exit has almost worked into my hands.

We were quite similar players and would often make the same runs and look for the same balls, and now there are more holes for me to run into and work off (George) Boyd and (Lee) Tomlin.

Aaron is a great player and was in fantastic form when he left, so I've had to step-up and think I've done that quite well.

Q: Despite the defeat to MK Dons last night, the team have been playing fantastically well, both scoring goals and defending. Is it all down to the impact of Darren Ferguson?

A: Darren has instilled a confidence in the whole squad, and we believe in ourselves at both ends of the pitch. I think it's showing because you can see everyone playing with confidence, which was emphasised in the 4-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday when we played really well.

We have the ability to score goals at all times, and the defence have really stepped up. They deserve a massive pat on the back because at the start of the season they were taking some stick, and we have been really tight over the past months.

Q: Finally, there has been plenty of transfer speculation in recent weeks regarding your future and Norwich City - has it been difficult to keep focused on the challenge at London Road?

A: Not at all. I just keep concentrating on my football and doing what I'm doing. It's great to be linked but until I'm told differently and a firm offer has been accepted I just want to keep scoring goals. The aim is to fire us back into the Championship with automatic promotion.

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Peterborough United
League One
Craig Mackail-Smith

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