SAM Smith admits his loan at Oxford United has been a steep learning curve, but is backing himself to build on a strong display on Tuesday.

The striker knew the prospect of back-to-back cup games this week offered him a chance to ignite his campaign.

And the 20-year-old took the chance against Wycombe Wanderers, poaching from close range to bag a second Checkatrade Trophy goal of the season.

The highly-rated youngster readily admits his first loan away from Reading has been a steep learning curve.

But he is determined to capitalise on his newfound confidence when Forest Green Rovers visit in the Emirates FA Cup tomorrow.

Smith said: “I’ve been working hard in training waiting for my opportunity.

“Now we’ve got the FA Cup coming up and hopefully I can start in that and get another goal to prove that I should be playing in the league.

“I’ve come here to prove a point. I feel like it’s not gone to plan so far, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

“I’ve learnt so much about myself as a player, adapting with new players and it’s been a massive learning curve for me.

“I’ve just been working hard and waiting for an opportunity.

“I back myself and know if I do get a fair run of games I can provide what I’ve come here to do.”

With Jon Obika ruled out for the season, Smith’s main competition for the No 9 spot is Jamie Mackie.

But with the experienced forward suspended next weekend and expected to miss tomorrow’s first round tie through injury, a run in the side is within his sights.

Mackie though has proved influential to Smith’s education.

He said: “I’ve been watching Jamie a lot recently and he does things for the team that a lot of people don’t realise.

“That’s what I’ve learned, the way he uses his body and holds up the ball.”

He added: “I think a lot of the players here forget how young I am.

“That was what was difficult for me, I’ve come in and had to step up straight away.

“It’s taken a bit of time but I feel like now I can really start to kick on and show everyone what I can do.”

Smith has some experience of the FA Cup, having played in Reading’s fourth round defeat at Sheffield Wednesday last season.

And he would love to help the U’s continue to fight on three fronts by avoiding an upset tomorrow.

He said: “It’s a massive game.

“If we get the result we’re in the next round and we can come up against some big teams (later in the competition).

“To me it’s the biggest cup competition. It’s got a massive history and everyone wants to play in it.

“We want to go far in the tournament. I just think we’re on a streak now as a team and it’s another game to keep that going and build confidence.”