HIS debut will not be until tonight, but already Alan Smith is keen to make his move to Milton Keynes Dons permanent after sensing a good vibe at his new club.
The 31-year-old is set to make his first appearance in League One at home to Sheffield Wednesday tonight after joining on loan until the end of his Newcastle United contract this summer.
Smith will be used as a striker, despite never having scored in 94 mainly midfield appearances for the Magpies.
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson admitted he will consider a move to bring Smith back to his hometown club in the summer, having decided against one before the start of the current campaign.
However, on his first day at Milton Keynes, the player capped 19 times by England was doing his best to discourage him.
Smith said: “As soon as you get a feeling or a belief about a place it is difficult to walk away.
“Fingers crossed if stuff does go well and we do get promoted something long-term can hopefully happen.
“You have feelings about places sometimes. When my agent and I came down last Monday we both had that feeling.
“You can take a sidewards step in the Premier League, go to a team in the Championship or come to a team in League One.
“This club has the potential, with or without me here, to get promoted this season.”
What put Grayson off was the lack of football Smith has played in the last two seasons.
His final start for Newcastle came in the Wear-Tyne derby of 2010, when he broke his ankle after 36 minutes.
His contribution this term has been two substitute appearances totalling five minutes (plus added time).
Unable to even get a game in the League Cup, he recently complained he was being treated as little more than a cheerleader and sounding board by boss Alan Pardew.
Bought from Manchester United in August 2007, Smith will have cost Newcastle nearly £21.6m in transfer fee and wages by the end of June.
They will still be paying around £57,000 of his £60,000-a-week wages while he plays for the Dons.
When he made a goalscoring Premier League debut at Anfield days after his 18th birthday, Smith was one of English football’s mist exciting talents.
However, injuries have taken their toll – most notably a horrific double leg break, also at Liverpool, in 2006. By then he had already been converted into a holding midfielder.
His biggest contribution on Tyneside came in 2009-10.
Smith made 31 starts and one substitute appearance in Newcastle’s Championship-winning campaign, often wearing the captain’s armband.
He was one of the senior figures who played an important role in revitalising the club while Chris Hughton was caretaker manager.
However, once the Magpies were restored to the top flight he was pushed into the shadows, playing an important role in the dressing room but a negligible one on the field.
Smith, who notched as many red cards as goals (one) for his country, admitted injuries had damaged his mind as much as his body, but claimed they have given him more desire to squeeze the maximum from the twilight years of his career.
He added: “Injuries are injuries and they are more psychological and mental.
“In hindsight, that time out of football gives you the hunger to want to get back to basics and play football.
“When you are a kid that is all you want to do, go out and play football.”
The Dons, losing semi-finalists in last year’s League One play-offs, are currently fifth in the table. Smith’s loan will include the play-offs should his new club reach them.