Keane retains faith in young defender

IPSWICH Town’s Tommy Smith has been praised by manager Roy Keane for the progress he has made in the last year or so.

The 20-year-old defender was badly at fault for the Swansea second goal on Saturday when he failed to boot the ball clear of the six-yard box.

But with injuries and suspensions affecting more experienced players around him in the back four in recent weeks, the New Zealand international has had to mature pretty quickly.

He has shown growing maturity doing particularly well against West Brom on Wednesday and still stranding tall when Norwich City had their tails up in the recent East Anglian derby.

“Tommy went into last season on the back of a serious injury and he has made excellent progress,” said Keane.

“His World Cup experience did him good and he enjoys responsibility in a nice, quiet way.

“He’s been helping those around him and he has made one or two errors but that happens with all young defenders.

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“Tommy quietly gets on with his job and is low maintenance and I have a lot of time for him.”

And talking of his side’s current position in the table, Keane added: “We have to move up the table and the beauty or madness perhaps of the Championship is that two or three wins and you are right up there.

“We have got to start looking over our shoulders with clubs beginning to pick up points and we don’t want to drop any lower as we will then be fighting for our lives like we did last season.

“If you give away goals like we have against Derby, Barnsley, Norwich and now Swansea it’s not going to get any better.

“But we can dream – we can dream of moving up.”

Darren O’Dea picked up a hamstring problem on Saturday although Luke Hyam and Mark Kennedy and perhaps Connor Wickham have a chance of playing part of tomorrow’s Combination game against Luton Town at Playford Road, kick-off 2pm.

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