SWINDON Town manager Mark Cooper has backed Michael Smith to prove his critics wrong after incurring the wrath of his own team’s fans during the weekend win over Sheffield United.

Cooper felt some of the jeers dealt out to striker Smith from some members of the County Ground crowd on Saturday were unjustified but he does not feel the former Charlton Athletic man will be adversely affected by supporters turning on him in the long run.

While he conceded that the forward’s display was not up to scratch prior to his substitution in the 80th minute, the Robins boss said some of the comments thrown at Smith were “not going to help anyone”.

When asked by the Advertiser what he made of Smith’s performance, Cooper said: “Not great but I don’t think he deserved that. It was so quick to turn. He was trying his socks off, he’s scored quite a few goals in a little amount of games, he’s not played a lot of football as well and he’s still learning.

“We know he’s got to be stronger and we know he’s got to keep hold of the ball but that’s not going to help anyone.

“Gone are the days when we sign players on so many thousand pounds a week who can go and straight away get hold of the ball. We can’t do it. We have to work with young players and make them better.

“You have to be strong. That won’t bother Michael too much, he’ll dust himself down. He’s a tough Geordie boy and as long as we look after him, that’s all that matters.”

Smith has scored six goals in 14 appearances for Swindon since joining for an undisclosed fee - believed to be £100,000 rising to £200,000 - in January.