Tommy Smith happy to hold off Olympic dream to help Ipswich

TOMMY Smith is prepared to put his Olympic dreams on hold to help the Blues move away from the relegation zone.

Town boss Paul Jewell is unlikely to release the young defender for the London 2012 qualifiers in March – but it is something that has Smith’s full backing.

He explained: “There are Olympic qualifiers in March, but I don’t think the manager is going to release me for that.

“As it is not in a FIFA window it would mean missing five Ipswich games. Ipswich pay my wages, it is my bread and butter, so I understand that.”

The 21-year-old defender has become a key part in the New Zealand squad since helping them remain unbeaten during the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

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But the All Whites’ bid to take their place in the London Games has been hit by the news that Smith – and other foreign-based team mates – are unlikely to feature in the qualifiers in March.

Smith, above, has featured in the last four matches for Town, starting the final three against Birmingham City, Blackpool and Leeds United.

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And while some doubts about the youngster remain, he has shown glimpses of the his raw talent in the heart of Town’s desperately creaking backline.

In the final year of his contract with Ipswich, Smith said last week he would be keen to remain at the club – but only if he could be assured that he would form an integral part of the squad next season.

While Jewell’s reluctance to allow Smith to play in the Olympic qualifiers could be seen as a sign of his increasing importance to Town, in truth the beleaguered Blues boss currently has little option in a defence that he is continually looking to improve.

Smith believes the fact he is likely to miss a string of important matches for the All Whites will not hinder his chances of playing in the Olympics nor adding to his 10 international caps.

He said: “I think there are others in the same boat as me.

“We have got a friendly with the All Whites first team on February 29 (against Jamaica) and I hope to be selected.

“I would like to play in the Olympics but all I am thinking about now is helping Ipswich.”

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