Matt Smith has battled through the pain barrier to establish himself as a first-team fixture at Oldham, says Dean Furman.
Smith, who stands at 6ft 6ins, was almost exclusively used as an impact sub during his first 18 months at Boundary Park, but the 23-year-old has grasped the opportunity afforded to him since Matt Derbyshire's loan spell from Nottingham Forest expired.
The former Solihull Borough target man started his fifth consecutive match as Latics stunned Forest 3-2 in the FA Cup on Saturday, sporting a bandaged head after suffering an injury against Doncaster on Boxing Day that required 11 stitches and leading the line impressively despite the having the misfortune of putting the hosts ahead with a first-half own-goal.
Finding the net at the right end has proved problematic for Smith over the past month, but Furman is confident the end to his drought is around the corner
"He's not as pretty as he once was," the South Africa midfielder joked. "He looks like a good, old-fashioned striker now.
"He really is a threat for us. It's great to be able to play balls up to him and you know that nine times out of 10 he's going to win it. And if he doesn't win it, their defender's not got a free header.
"He's very effective and the one thing missing at the moment that he's desperate to put right is that goal. I think once he gets one they'll start flowing in for him."