Tommy Smith’s Olympic call-up adds to transfer pressure on Paul Jewell
TOMMY Smith’s Olympic dream threatens to turn into a nightmare for Paul Jewell as he prepares to face pre-season with just one recognised centre-back.
The Ipswich Town defender was yesterday celebrating after being selected for New Zealand’s 23-man squad for next month’s London Games.
But while the 23-year-old will be licking his lips at the prospect of adding an Olympic Games to his growing and glittering football CV, not to mention a final group game against Brazil, Jewell might not be quite so enthused.
Especially after it was announced that Smith and his ‘Lily Whites’ team mates will face pre-Olympic friendlies in Tokyo and Seoul right in the middle of Town’s first full week of pre-season training in July.
Smith might be getting valuable match fitness throughout the summer but it currently leaves Jewell surveying his squad with just one established centre-back in it – Damien Delaney.
The Town boss is currently scouring home and abroad in search of new talent with a new centre-back, or two, and a new goalkeeper heading the list of problem areas.
The start of official pre-season is a little under two weeks away with the first friendly against Helmond Sport on July 17.
- 1 How it unfolded, as Town pick up a 2-1 victory at Forest Green
- 2 How the Ipswich Town players performed in their victory at Forest Green
- 3 Top food event set to provide showcase for more than 100 Suffolk producers
- 4 Andy's Angles: Five observations from Ipswich Town's win at Forest Green
- 5 Forest Green Rovers 1-2 Ipswich Town: Super Blues win on the road
- 6 McKenna on Town's Forest Green win and Harness and Morsy goals
- 7 Plans for 19 homes in Suffolk village refused
- 8 Car left destroyed after catching fire in west Suffolk
- 9 Decision on pub's licence deferred to next week
- 10 Four taken to hospital after crash involving ambulance on A146
Jewell does have some time on his hands, but fans are growing restless at the prospect of Delaney lining up with one of centre-back rookies Luke Hyam or Jack Ainsley for the Netherlands tour.
The prospect of that, and the fact Arran Lee-Barrett remains the only keeper on the books, is far from ideal even though Smith insists he will be ready for the new season despite a gruelling summer which started with the Oceania Nations Cup in the Solomon Islands and ends with the Olympics.
The centre-back, who is expected to start as vice-captain for New Zealand, said: “Playing in the Games would add to my match fitness ahead of the season, as well as being a fantastic honour, so I think I will be fine for Ipswich come the start of the season.”
Jewell will still look to bring in at least one right-sided centre-back while a keeper remains a priority.
US stopper Brad Guzan, a free agent after leaving Aston Villa at the end of the season, is believed to be a target high on the list but reports from Hull City suggest Jewell will have another fight with a divisional rival on his hands to secure the keeper.