Delaney backs defensive partner Smith

IPSWICH Town defender Damien Delaney has backed central-back partner Tommy Smith ahead of tomorrow night’s visit of in-form Southampton following a difficult two games for the New Zealand international.

Smith inadvertently helped the ball into Paul Turnbull’s path for Northampton Town’s winner in the Carling Cup last Tuesday and was beaten one-one-one by striker Matty Fryatt for Hull City’s winner at Portman Road on Saturday.

“People forget he’s a young lad sometimes because he looks about 30!” joked Delaney, who at 30 himself is almost nine years Smith’s senior.

“I try and speak to him all the time throughout games. He’s had a tough time of it for the last couple of games but he’s a good player and he’s strong enough mentally. I’m sure he’ll keep his head and do a good job tomorrow night.”

With Ivar Ingimarsson set to miss another two weeks with a thigh injury, Smith and Delaney are currently the clubs only two fit centre-backs.

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And Delaney himself is still not 100% having strained angle ligaments in the 3-0 win at Bristol City on the opening day of the season.

“The ankle was quite sore and swollen on Saturday to be honest, it was quite heavily strapped but there’s no point in moaning about it,” said the Irishman.

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“I got through the game and there’s been no major reaction to it so we’ll see how we go tomorrow night.

““I know the manager is looking to bring one, maybe two new centre-backs between now and the end of the transfer window. I hope he does get them in because you need competition for places, certainly more than what we have at present.”

He continued: “I feel for Ivar. There’s never a good time to get injured, but it’s especially hard when you first sign for a club.

“He got injured in pre-season and I know, having missed pre-season myself last year, how big an effect that can have. Getting a whole pre-season under my belt this year is going to make a world of difference to me.

“When the games were coming thick and fast after Christmas I found it hard to recover in between games when I didn’t have that foundation of pre-season behind me.”

– For comment, tactical insights, score predictions and all the latest team news, see tomorrow’s EADT and Evening Star.

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