Ipswich Town’s Tommy Smith says being dropped helped his career

Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith - Credit: Archant

Tommy Smith believes former manager Paul Jewell’s decision to cast him aside when times were tough helped transform his career.

The 23-year-old has become a mainstay under Mick McCarthy and helped a rejuvenated defence keep 11 clean sheets in the last 15 games, ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Birmingham.

The New Zealand international was left out of Jewell’s final games, and was also given the cold shoulder for over four months last season, following heavy defeats to Southampton and Peterborough.

Now a leading contender for the Town’s supporters’ club’s player of the year award, Smith says his prolonged spells out of the team proved to be positive experiences.

“Being one of the younger players it was probably easier to leave me out than an experienced old head that might have caused a bit of a fuss,” said Smith.

“I was learning then and I still am now but maybe a spell out of the team did me good. Had I still been in the team and making mistakes, my confidence could have dipped even more.

“Mick McCarthy gave me confidence in myself and the first thing he said was, ‘I have seen you before, I am having you, so just wait for your chance and be ready to take it when it’s handed to you’.”

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Tomorrow’s visitors Birmingham City have lost just once away from home this year in the league and cup and thumped Crystal Palace 4-0 at Selhurst Park less than a month ago.

However, with a new resilience created under McCarthy, Smith and the Blues will embrace the challenge.

“A lot of how you play is down to confidence in yourself but also in your team-mates that they are going to go and do their job properly,” said Smith.

“Looking back to the Peterborough and Southampton games, a lot of people were making mistakes and it affected me more than it should have.

“Hopefully I won’t make any major ricks, but even if I do now, I have the confidence in my ability to bounce back.”

Junior Blues can attend tomorrow’s game for free while all other under-16s can gain admission for just £1.

Junior Blues members must claim their ticket from the ticket office prior to kick-off and those with season tickets can claim a free ticket for another under-16 by calling the ticket office or visiting Planet Blue with their customer number.

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