Tommy Smith misses first New Zealand’s first pre-Olympic friendly through injury

TOMMY Smith will sit out New Zealand’s first friendly tonight after suffering a slight hamstring injury at the start of Ipswich Town’s pre-season training.

It had been envisaged that the young defender would meet up with his international team mates ahead of tonight’s game in Tokyo against the Japanese Under-23s.

But club and country have taken the precautionary step in withdrawing him – making him also a doubt for the second friendly match against Korea in Seoul on Saturday.

It seems more likely that he will meet up with his country when they fly to London and spend two days in the Olympic Village prior to flying to Austria to play the United Arab Emirates in their final warm-up game on July 19.

The slight aggravation is not expected to impact on Smith’s involvement in the London Olympics where he is set to be vice-captain for the Under-23s, known as the Lily-Whites.

Town fans will be cheering on Smith and his international team mates against Belarus, Egypt and Brazil.

* At the time of writing, a massive 70% of Town fans polled have called on Paul Jewell to start the season with Tommy Smith and Luke Chambers in the heart of the defence.

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Intriguingly, almost a quarter of supporters want to Blues boss to land a fourth centre-back – and start him – in the season opener at home to Blackburn Rovers on August 18.