Tommy Smith reassures Town fans that his Olympic dreams won’t be an Ipswich nightmare
IPSWICH Town’s Olympian Tommy Smith has reassured Blues fans that his gruelling summer will not affect his chances of making a central defensive berth his own next season.
Smith will leave Town’s pre-season next week to join up with New Zealand’s Under-23s squad for three friendly matches ahead of the London Games.
His international duties – which included skippering the All Whites in the Oceania Nations Cup in the Solomon Islands – has led some to question what shape he will be in come the Championship kick-off on August 18.
But Smith insisted he won’t be asking Paul Jewell for a break and that his Olympic dreams will actually help his chances of persuading the Blues boss to pick him in the heart of the defence.
The 22-year-old said: “I will definitely be match-fit and I will definitely be available for the first game against Blackburn, permitting injury. It is just a shame I won’t be getting match-fit, gelling with the squad.
“I will miss the majority of the pre-season, but our last group game is August 1 – although hopefully we will get through. I will catch the last seven days at least with Ipswich as I don’t want any break afterwards – I want to get straight back into it.”
Even though Smith and Damien Delaney are currently the only two recognised centre backs at present, they will soon be joined by free agent Luke Chambers while Jewell might even add a fourth to the ranks.
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This means the Kiwi faces a fight on his hands when he returns to club duty after facing Olympic group matches against Egypt, Belarus and then the might of tournament favourites Brazil, who this week named Alexandre Pato, Hulk and Neymar in their squad.
Smith, who yesterday launched the second day of Ipswich’s torch relay at Christchurch Park, said: “My Town team mates are really supportive of me playing in the Olympics. I am sure they would love to be there so I know how lucky to be in that situation.
“To have played in the World Cup and now with the Olympics coming up, it is another great sporting achievement for me personally. One I will hopefully grab with both hands and take.”