Family miss out on visit from Town star

IPSWICH TOWN: Blues match winner Tommy Smith has had to pass up a family reunion in his quest to free himself from back pain.

IPSWICH TOWN: Blues match winner Tommy Smith has had to pass up a family reunion in his quest to free himself from back pain.

The 20-year-old central defender will not be jetting back to New Zealand to play friendly matches against Honduras and Paraguay today - instead preparing himself to see a specialist to help cure a disc problem that has affected him since February.

After his heroic efforts in this summer’s World Cup finals in South Africa, Smith would have been well received in both Auckland and Wellington in what would have been his first games for his adopted country on ‘home’ soil.

And he would have taken the rare opportunity to meet up with his brother and sister who remained in New Zealand when the rest of the family returned to England when the player was 16 to join the Blues academy.

“It would have been nice to meet up with them both,“ said Smith. “And to have played in front of New Zealand supporters.

“But there is plenty of time for that to happen.

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“If it had been competitive games I would have gone, but I need to nip this back problem in the bud, and now is the ideal time to do it.

“It is not playing that it is a problem, but the sitting involved in spending 48 hours in the air on the outward and inward flights.

“That would not have done it any good, and after a couple of scans it is time to see a specialist and give the problem a chance to heal.”

Not having a proper pre-season break did not help Smith who says that he thinks one of his back discs is pressing against a nerve.

“It is over use really, and although getting to South Africa was a problem I was able to manage the situation when I was over there,” added Smith, who showed no discomfort during Saturday‘s 2-1 home win over Leeds United.

This was unlike his central defensive partner Gareth McAuley, who was seen holding his right thigh regularly throughout the 90 minutes.

“Gareth was struggling a bit but he got through okay,“ confirmed Smith, who was involved in a mix-up with his team mate over the Leeds goal.

“I called, but perhaps the ball was more down Gareth’s channel and we ended up both going for the same ball.”

And referring to his goal the player who was not on the original team sheet added: “I was willing Carlos Edwards‘ cross to go over Connor Wickham‘s head after he took a defender away. When it did I had a free header and it was great to see it go in.”

Smith scored on the opening day of the season at Middlesbrough and along with McAuley has scored three golas this term.

“It is part of our job to go up and try and score at set pieces,” said Smith.

“But our main job is to defend and they lack of goals we are conceding at the moment puts us in with a good chance of success this season.”

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