Barrow AFC suffered a big blow this afternoon as top scorer Tyler Smith was recalled from his loan spell from Sheffield United.

The 20-year-old’s stay at Holker Street was supposed to last until the New Year, but he has returned to the Blades a few weeks early and is in the squad for their Championship fixture against West Bromwich Albion tomorrow night.

Smith scored 11 goals in 24 appearances while with the Bluebirds, with whom he thrived in what was his first experience of first-team football.

His most recent strike came in what turned out to be his final appearance for them, with his poacher’s effort against Maidstone United being the only effort in a 1-0 win that maintained AFC’s resurgent form.

He played a big part in their run of three wins in four games that has breathed new life into their season, opening the scoring at Aldershot as well as nipping in for the crucial second goal at Braintree.

It was clear to anyone who has seen him play regularly this season that Smith was destined to play at a higher level, although Barrow fans will wish it hadn’t have come so soon.

His pace is sure to keep on troubling opponents, as will his almost perpetual movement in the attacking half, while his link-up play and awareness showed maturity beyond his years.

As recently as last week, manager Ian Evatt spoke of his wish to extend his stay, saying: “He’s a kid whose attitude to training is a minority these days.

“Some of the young players of today probably don’t train as hard as they should do, they take things for granted, some of them, but Tyler certainly doesn’t.

“His work ethic – I have to drag him off the training pitch every single day and tell him ‘that’s enough.’

“I have to physically get him off the pitch because he wants to improve and he wants to learn and he’s going to have a fantastic career and we’re seeing the fruits of what he can do right now.”

Smith impressed from the off with the Bluebirds, as he marked his first-ever senior appearance with a goal on his debut against Havant & Waterlooville on the opening day of the season.

His most notable contribution came when his two goals helped AFC to a memorable 3-2 victory over Chesterfield at Holker Street in August.

Speaking in an interview with The Mail last month, Smith said: “It’s been good to experience a first-team environment for the first time because everything is different, such as the training.

“You’re also playing for something because with the under-23s you’re not really playing for much and it’s more about performance, but now every game means something.

"I’m getting kicked to bits and dragged about, but it is benefitting me a lot, lot more."