Tommy set for NZ World Cup squad

IPSWICH TOWN: Tommy Smith has moved one step closer to realising his boyhood dream of playing in the World Cup.

There is still some way to go, but Ipswich Town’s up-and-coming defender remains on course to perform on the biggest stage in South Africa.

Smith confirmed yesterday that he should be included in New Zealand’s initial 30-man squad, and he is hopeful that he will also survive the final cut before this summer’s big tournament.

All Whites boss, Ricki Herbert, was very impressed with centre-half Smith on his debut performance in last month’s friendly fixture against Mexico, which was held in Los Angeles.

Herbert is set to name Smith in his 30-man squad, and he will whittle down to a final 23 on the eve of the World Cup, following a training camp and a few friendlies.

“It’s every lad’s dream to play in the World Cup,” insisted Smith.

“I’m no different, and hopefully I will make it to South Africa.

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“I think I’m in the 30-man squad that will be announced shortly, and then we will see how it goes from there,” added Smith.

A product of Town’s youth system, Smith made his senior debut on the opening day of last season against Preston. A broken ankle scuppered the 20-year-old’s chances of more appearances, until he returned on the last day of the campaign.

Manager Roy Keane included Smith in his squad for the first 16 matches of this season, although Town failed to win a league game during that period.

He then suffered a hand injury in training, and was eventually loaned out to League One club Brentford at the turn of the year.

The left-sided defender made eight appearances for the Bees, before being recalled in mid-March.

Smith went five months without making an appearance for Ipswich, before finally returning as a 75th minute substitute for left-back Shane O’Connor in Monday’s 3-1 win at Derby County.

Now he is preparing to go out to a New Zealand training camp, to be staged in Auckland from the end of this month.

Smith concluded: “After the game in Los Angeles, Ricki said he was pleased with me and that I was in his plans.”