Tommy hopes to use inside knowledge

TOMMY Smith is hoping his inside knowledge of New Zealand will help England take a step closer to a World Cup final.Although the Ipswich Town defender starts on the bench against the Kiwis for this morning's FIFA Under-17s World Cup group game, which kicked off at 9am BST in South Korea, he can play a key role in an English success.

By Derek Davis

TOMMY Smith is hoping his inside knowledge of New Zealand will help England take a step closer to a World Cup final.

Although the Ipswich Town defender starts on the bench against the Kiwis for this morning's FIFA Under-17s World Cup group game, which kicked off at 9am BST in South Korea, he can play a key role in an English success.

Smith lived for almost eight years in New Zealand after his parents went out there from his home in Macclesfield. He was asked to represent the Kiwis in this World Cup.


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Smith, speaking from the England hotel in South Korea last night, told the EADT: “They never had proper international fixtures so I never actually represented them as such but I was always called into their elite player squads for matches they played.

“I got to know all their players that are here now and so know all their strengths and weaknesses. I have been giving the lads a few tips and hopefully I can help.

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“Ideally I would like to go on and play against them, that would be amazing.”

New Zealand were thrashed 7-0 by Brazil in their group opener, while England were held to a 1-1 draw by North Korea, but Smith insists they are not being fooled by the heavy Kiwis defeat.

He said: “We have seen a tape of the game and it was a deceptive result. It was a lot closer than the scoreline suggest and it was only a few defensive lapses that made it look so bad so we are not falling into a trap of thinking it will be easy.”

Smith came off after 68 minutes in the group opener with England leading 1-0 and admits the conditions caught up with him.

He said: “I have never experienced humidity like it, not even in New Zealand. The conditions were really hard and I just ran out of steam.

“The coach is rotating the squad to keep everyone fresh but I hope to be involved against New Zealand and then play Brazil on Friday.”

The England squad are playing in the Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo, which was used in the 2002 World Cup.

Smith said: “It is a great experience being in a World Cup. Not many kids my age can say they have played in a World Cup finals tournament so it is amazing.

“You don't get many chances to play Brazil in a top competition either so I'm looking forward to that, too.

“It will be a toughie and it might even decide who finishes top of the group.”

With Ipswich getting down to the bare bones in the centre-half stakes, Smith could find himself pushing for a first team squad place when he gets back next month. He is hoping this experience will help him.

He said: “I'm learning all about different styles of opponents and that can only benefit me when I come back to Ipswich.

“All I can do to try and get into the first team, which is my ambition, is to work hard and do all I can to push on.”

Understandably the players miss the home comforts but Smith is enjoying the squad company, which includes Colchester United youngster Medy Elito, who is also on the bench today.

Smith said: “I'm missing home a bit and my mum and dad and girlfriend but it is great to be here.

“We are playing in the World Cup stadiums and the training ground about 20 minutes from the hotel is top class with a great surface.

“Medy is a good lad to be with. He is a bit of a joker and is keeping us all laughing.”

England's World Cup Under-17s clash against New Zealand will be shown live on Eurosport, kicking off 9am UK time.

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