Tommy Smith is also late for training – but receives nothing but praise from manager Paul Jewell

TOMMY Smith became the third player to turn up late for training last week – but at least the young defender had a valid excuse!

The 21-year-old travelled over 24,000 miles last week to play in an international friendly for New Zealand against Jamaica. He was due to be back on English soil early on Friday morning and report to Playford Road at 10.30m.

“The plane was an hour delayed so I didn’t arrive back until half seven. I made training about 15 minutes late so I caught the back end of the warm up,” said Smith, who produced another superb performance in Saturday’s 3-0 home win over Bristol City, even getting himself a goal.

And Blues boss Paul Jewell even managed to joke about the situation following a week which had seen him suspend Jimmy Bullard and fine Michael Chopra for turning up late to Thursday’s training session after reportedly being seen at a string of Nwcastle night clubs the previous evening.

Speaking of Smith, Jewell joked: “Perhaps he’ll get a fine (for being late)! Tommy trained well on Friday and I think he deserves a lot of credit.”

Smith added: “I am not too tired, but it has been a long week.

“It does take it out of you a little bit, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me playing.

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“It was my first game in New Zealand for the All Whites, the physio gave me some sleeping pills and we tried to plan when I would sleep – it worked out quite well.

“I managed to stay awake on Friday and then get nine or so hours sleep. Hopefully I’ll get another couple of nights kip and then I’ll be fine for Tuesday (away at Southampton).”

Smith – who has looked rock-solid over the last seven games – has not yet been offered a new contract, with his current one due to expire this summer.

Asked about the situation, Smith said: “I still haven’t heard anything yet on the contract – I am just concentrating on the football.”