Mick McCarthy can build team around defensive duo

Luke Chambers, left, and Tommy Smith

Luke Chambers, left, and Tommy Smith - Credit: Andy Abbott

Mick McCarthy can build his team around the rock-solid defensive pairing of Tommy Smith and Luke Chambers.

That is the view of former Blues star and England international centre-half Kevin Beattie, who revealed his delight at Smith’s decision to pen an extension to his exisring Portman Road deal, yesterday.

The New Zealand international will now be under contract at Ipswich until the summer of 2016 and Blues fans will be hoping his blossoming partnership with Chambers continues.

The pair played crucial roles in Town’s resurgence under McCarthy this season, following a dreadful start under Paul Jewell, and along with Aaron Cresswell, have been arguably Ipswich’s most consistent performers of recent times.

Beattie, who played 228 times for the Blues during a nine-year spell at Portman Road, and featured in many of those games alongside fellow Blues legend Allan Hunter, said: “Tommy is captain of his country and, while New Zealand are not considered to be the best football nation in the world, that says a lot.

“He has signed for another two years and I am over the moon.

“He will he be a great player in the future for Ipswich, but he is also a big player now.

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“He reads the game very well and while he is not the biggest, he has loads of strength and his all-round game is good.

“The lad gets better and better every week and Mick McCarthy has a great base in Tommy and Luke Chambers, in which to build his team around. You could say that though for virtually all of the back four and goalkeeper though.”

Smith will now go on a well-deserved break following a mammoth spell which has seen him not only represent Town, but also New Zealand at the 2010 World Cup and in qualifying games in far-flung destinations.

He also played for his country’s Olympics team at last year’s Games in London, but will now take a break ahead of a play-off push next season

After penning his deal, Smith said: “I have not had a break for two years now so it will be good for the body and mind to have a break, but I will coming back raring to go in pre-season.

“The continuation of playing competitive football can be quite good, but the fatigue that my body took on probably affected me more than those players who had a break.”

Smith has played 112 times for Town, having been at Portman Road since the age of 16, and added that he was delighted to secure his future in Suffolk.

“I have been with the club since I was 16 and I love the club,” he said.

“The fans like seeing homegrown youngsters coming through and from a financial point of view, it’s a lot cheaper than buying players in all the time.”

Talking about the end to this season, he added: “We almost did not want it to end, and who knows what would have happened had we had five or six more games left to play?

“In the form we were in, I am sure we could have made a push (for the play-offs).

“Next season we need to start well and get a good pre-season behind us to ensure that happens.”