Tommy Smith: From not having a chance under Jewell to winning a new contract

TOMMY Smith has finally proved to Paul Jewell he can be part of Ipswich Town’s future.

By the manager’s own admission, Smith has faced a tough job convincing the Blues boss of his worth to the team.

But after starting the last 20 matches, the performances of the New Zealand international has finally seen Smith be offered a new deal.

And while the defender has not yet put pen to paper, Jewell is convinced that he will keep hold of a player who looks set to star in the London Olympics before the start of the 2012/12 campaign.

Jewell said: “I am keen to keep him. Tommy has played centre-back, but on the right-hand-side, which is not ideal for him. But he has done really well.

“He was out of the picture, but he has come in and played the last 20 games and you can see the benefit of that. He’s only 22, he is a good professional and I think he will get better.”

Smith struggled at the start of the season with many supporters questioning whether he was worth persevering with.

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And Jewell acknowledged: “Since I have been here, he hasn’t really had a chance. He had a tough time against Southampton and then he came on for 10 seconds against Peterborough (where he was quickly sent off).

“It was a while before he got back in. But what Tommy did was knuckle down. He is a really good professional and a good lad, he waited for his chance and then stayed in. He hasn’t done himself any harm.”