Port Vale defender Nathan Smith has wowed the fans at Vale Park this season, forging an impressive centre-back partnership with Remie Streete in the process.
The Valiants have kept four clean sheets in their last seven games, despite slipping out of the play-off places in recent weeks.
Both Smith and Streete have been linked with moves away, and as the January transfer window gets closer the rumours get louder.
Smith however, is happy to stay at Vale Park so long as he is getting game-time. He says is solely focused on the job at hand, and pays no attention to the rumour-mill.
He said: “It’s the most important thing to keep your feet on the ground. I don’t think about it. If it happens it happens and if not, then I’m happy where I am and enjoying playing football.
“The first thing on my mind is the game on Saturday and hopefully winning as many games as possible.
“As long as you are happy where you are, you enjoy your football. Nothing else really matters as long as you are getting games.
“No matter what level you are at, so long as it is competitive football, that’s the main thing. You don’t want to be stuck around playing reserve games.
Breaking through into the first-team after loan spells at Stafford Rangers and then Torquay United, the 20-year-old is pleased with his growing understanding with Streete in the heart of defence now he has returned to Vale Park.
He said: “We’ve started off well. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses now and we complement each other well.
“To keep more clean sheets is our first aim as a partnership and if we do that I’ll be very happy.
“[Rob Page] had my best interests at heart by sending me out on loan. I think it was the right thing to do and it’s definitely given me a kick-start in my career and It improved me a lot.
“If I look back at where I’ve been on loan, I would say Torquay has been my biggest learning curve and it’s definitely developed me as a player and given me that stepping stone to where I am now playing in the first-team.”
Vale next play this Saturday against Northampton at Vale Park (3PM K.O.), and Smith is expecting a tough encounter as he hopes to deny former Valiants manager Page a victory.
He said: “It’s going to be a tough task [to keep a clean sheet against Northampton but as a defence we feel confident as a unit. At home especially we can definitely do the job.
“Any game during the season you expect a tough battle and a fight, but no matter who comes here if we play how we can play then we can come away with the three points.”