Ipswich Town legend compares Blues’ defender to Allan Hunter

Kevin Beattie, left, and Allan Hunter

Kevin Beattie, left, and Allan Hunter

Ipswich Town legend Kevin Beattie has labelled Tommy Smith’s decision to extend his Portman Road contract as a “big coup”, and compared the defender to former Blues great Allan Hunter.

Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith - Credit: Andy Abbotty

Smith, who was out of contract at the end of next season, was rewarded with a two-year extension by Blues boss Mick McCarthy yesterday, following a number of fine displays alongside fellow centre-half Luke Chambers.

The New Zealand international, 23, made 41 league and cup appearances for the Blues last season, scoring three goals, and played a major role in Town’s improvement under McCarthy, helping the side to eight clean sheets in their last 13 games.

Former England star Beattie partnered Hunter in the Blues’ 1978 FA Cup Final-winning team and the pair became central defensive mainstays under legendary boss Sir Bobby Robson.

Now a regular visitor to Portman Road, Beattie believes Smith staying put is as good as any summer signing that McCarthy may make.

“This proves that Tommy really wants to be an Ipswich player,” said Beattie.

“I have seen one or two rumours about clubs looking at him but he wants to give something back to the club where he started and his signing is a big coup.

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“He’s not the biggest, but like Allan (Hunter) he is strong in the tackle and not frightened to leave his foot in there. “Big Al went up for corners to and was excellent in the air. Tommy’s the same.”

Smith made his debut under Jim Magilton but only since McCarthy’s arrival has he become a regular,

“I thought he should have been playing every game under Roy Keane and Paul Jewell and it drove me crazy when he wasn’t even on the bench,” said Beattie.

“But Mick (McCarthy) has given him so much confidence.”

Meanhwile, Beattie paid tribute to his former England room-mate and Manchester United defender Brian Greenhoff, 60, who died on Wednesday.

“He was different class and we got on really well. It’s such a shame he’s gone,” Beattie added.

What do you think? Email starsport@archant.co.uk or tweet @chrisbramms

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