Kevin Beattie happy to see Tommy Smith back in Blue again for Ipswich Town

Tommy Smith, pictured at Carrow Road last Sunday. Photo: PAGEPIX

Tommy Smith, pictured at Carrow Road last Sunday. Photo: PAGEPIX

Ipswich Town legend Kevin Beattie believes Tommy Smith can be the cornerstone of the Blues’ defence for years to come.

Smith underwent back surgery last September and was told there was a 10% risk the procedure could end his career. The 26-year-old’s rehabilitation has gone well though and he made his first-team comeback as a substitute in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Norwich City.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Tommy’s,” said Beattie, which is praise indeed from the man generally considered the club’s greatest-ever player – and who was a left-footed centre-back himself.

“I know he got some stick early in his Town career, but you learn though experience and he’s become a really accomplished defender. I think we miss him when he’s not available.

“It’s great to see him back after such a long time out. I sympathise with him as someone who had my fair share of injuries!”

Having joined the club’s academy as a teenager, New Zealand international Smith has made more than 250 appearances for the Blues and is contracted until 2019. He looks set to become an even more crucial figure if Christophe Berra moves on when his deal expires this summer.

“Tommy reads the game well, he’s a good talker and no-nonsense – if it needs to go Row Z then it goes Row Z,” said Beattie. “There’s no shame in that. Big Al (Allan Hunter) used to stick it in the stands when required. He’s better on the ball than people give him credit for too.

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“I think he’ll be suited to playing on the left of that back three and, along with Adam Webster, could be a key part of the defence for years to come.”

With Town having gone through a tricky-looking February undefeated, following Sunday’s 1-1 draw at rivals Norwich, Mick McCarthy’s men now face Brentford and Wolves at Portman Road on Saturday and next Tuesday respectively.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I think we will get six points,” said Beattie. “With David McGoldrick fully-fit again and Tom Lawrence coming back from suspension I fancy us against anyone at the moment.

“The number one thing I want to see in these final few games is for the team to win the crowd back again. A lot of people were getting pretty disillusioned, but if we keep playing the way we have been then that could change.”

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