Smith is backed by Town legend

IPSWICH TOWN: Blues legend Kevin Beattie has issued a ‘Rock on Tommy’ call to young defender Tommy Smith.

The 20-year-old, who returned to pre-season training this week after playing for New Zealand in this summer’s World Cup finals in South Africa, is in line to partner Gareth McAuley at the heart of the Town defence in the vital opening games of the season.

Damien Delaney’s serious injury picked up in training last week is likely to rule him out for three months, and manager Roy Keane says that he feels he has enough cover without going into the transfer market.

Beattie, a central defender himself and recognised as one of the best talents England has produced, is adamant a youngster with just 14 first team starts behind him can fill the void.

“Tommy must be rocking and rolling after his performances in the World Cup,” said Beattie.

“He was playing against the best around and helped unfancied New Zealand to remain unbeaten in the group stages.

“He will be full of confidence right now and I have faith in him taking over Damien’s role.

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“I’m sure he will not let the team down.”

Beattie was quick to stress the importance of finding a capable deputy for Delaney as Ipswich look for a good start to the campaign that will give them a platform on which to build a successful campaign.

“Damien and Gareth McAuley were the backbone of last season’s side,” added Beattie.

“So Tommy will have a big part to play.

“With the manager allowing Alex Bruce to be loaned out last season and currently being available for transfer, Tommy looks like being the main man.

“He has a sweet left foot and the World Cup will have brought him on a million miles.”

Beattie does admit that having a relatively inexperienced back four could pose a problem or two for Keane’s team.

“I made my Ipswich debut at Manchester United and was happy to have Allan Hunter, Mick Mills and Derek Jefferson beside me,” said Beattie.

“And it would be nice to have at least a couple of experienced players at the back.

“But today’s youngsters are coached more than my generation to hit the ground running at the top level, and Tommy will do for me.

“My first name is Thomas and to see another ‘Tommy’ doing it for Town in the back four would give me a great deal of pleasure.”

Delaney, who suffered a blood clot after taking a whack on his leg, is now out of hospital after two operations that potentially saved his playing career. He has paid a brief visit to Ipswich’s training ground.

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