Tommy Smith named in New Zealand Olympics squad

TOMMY Smith’s growing football CV will now include an Olympic Games appearance after he was named in the New Zealand squad for London 2012.

Having captained his country to third place in the recent Oceania Nations Cup in the Solomon Islands, Smith, who will wear the number five shirt, was always expected to be named in the Under-23 squad.

And he should be given the honour of vice-captain, behind returning new QPR centre-back Ryan Nelson, when the football tournament kicks off at the end of next month.

While some Ipswich Town fans will shiver at the amount of games Smith will play this summer, especially with no new central defensive recruits brought in as yet, it is another fantastic accolade for the 22-year-old who also appeared in the last World Cup finals.

New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary general and selector Kereyn Smith said: “Football (in New Zealand) has gone from strength to strength.

“Participation numbers in the sport are high and we acknowledge the power of the players, in particular leaders like Ryan Nelsen, to keep this momentum alive.

“Ryan’s influence in particular will be massive for a group that includes players as young as 17. Then you throw in the likes of Smith and the team core has got a good solid look to it.”

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New Zealand, who will have a total of 13 full internationals in their squad, will face Belarus, Egypt and then Brazil in Group C.

Prior to their tournament opener against Belarus on July 26, Smith and his Under-23 team mates will face Japan in Tokyo on July 11, Korea in Seoul three days later and then a final friendly with the UAE on July 19 at a location to be confirmed.