Alan Smith will return to the ground where his career almost ended his career when MK Dons re-ignite their Capital One Cup campaign tonight.
Most people would instantly think of the ankle break suffered by Smith at Anfield back in 2006, but it was in fact a second injury to his ankle his Newcastle days which cast a real doubt on his playing days.
In what proved to be his last start for the Magpies, Smith sustained another horrific injury which damaged the metal work in his ankle from the original injury five years earlier in the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland.
This evening Smith will return to the Stadium of Light for the first time since that match but the 32-year-old insists he has no demons to address; instead he is looking to play a role in helping guide MK Dons into the Capital One Cup third round.
“The derby was my last proper game for Newcastle, I was playing at the Stadium of Light and that is when I did my ankle again which was probably as bad, if not worse, than the original injury.
“It wasn’t as publicised as much because it wasn’t in a high-profile televised match. It was an injury that was more threatening to my career than the first one and I spent another 12 months missing football through injury.
“Injuries happen and they are part of football and I understand that. The type of player that I am means I am going to pick up injuries, unfortunately I have had two serious ones in my career but I’ve been back to Anfield a few times and tonight I’ll go back to Sunderland.
“It was always a stadium that I enjoyed playing at; there was a good rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland. I have fond memories of the place too because I’ve never been beaten there which is always a good omen!
“It is a very passionate part of the world for football and the club has great values. It is an ideal tie for us because Paolo Di Canio’s side will, I’m sure, be trying to win this competition.”
As a Newcastle player for five years Smith knows only too well how fired up the Black Cats and their supporters will be as they look to progress through the competition, which Di Canio may have earmarked as a realist target in his first full season in charge.
Smith is set to be one of the most experience players involved in the match for the Dons this evening night, especially if Karl Robinson sticks with the young-looking side which beat Northampton Town in the first round.
He hasn’t warned the youngster not to get over-awed by the occasion though; instead Smith wants the Dons to enjoy their test against Premier League opposition.
“The main thing for us is we go to Sunderland with the right attitude, it feels strange going to Sunderland and not as a Newcastle player, last time I went there I played in the derby which is always a great atmosphere and tonight night will be something special as well.”