Tommy Smith’s international career may be over, but Monty Patterson called up by New Zealand
PUBLISHED: 11:03 12 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:17 12 May 2016
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Tommy Smith’s international career with New Zealand could be over, but Ipswich Town youngster Monty Patterson has received his first senior call-up for the All Whites.
Centre-back Smith, 26, represented New Zealand at the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Olympics and is the youngest captain in the nation’s history.
The Macclesfield-born defender, who lived in New Zealand between the ages of eight and 16 after his family emigrated there, has been capped 29 times altogether, but has often found it difficult to combine the gruelling club schedule with round-the-world trips to play for his country.
He was involved in a club versus country row in 2013, then opted not to play international football during the 2014/15 season to concentrate on domestic football, but soon did a U-turn on that decision and had to hold clear-the-air talks with his New Zealand team-mates.
Smith then asked to be left out of the squad for last November’s friendly in Oman as he was proposing to his girlfriend at a time when his family were over from New Zealand, while he then made himself unavailable for the Oceania Nations Cup, which takes place in Papua New Guinea later this month.
As a result, head coach Anthony Hudson says he won’t be naming Smith in any of his future squads.
“Tommy has not been able to commit to us again, and as a result I will not be selecting him for the All Whites going forward. It is too disruptive to our preparation,” he said.
“It’s nothing personal against Tommy – he’s a top player and a really good character. I respect his situation but there was a situation before that, and before that. I have to do what’s right for the team.”
Hudson said communication between the pair had been limited to “at best, a couple of text messages here and there”.
He added: ”Tommy’s (club) career is a priority and that’s fine. But I’m the coach of New Zealand and I have to do what’s best for the national team.
“This decision’s been very difficult but we have to overachieve to be successful and to do that we need a consistent group of players who want to fight for the national team.”
Meanwhile, Blues midfielder/striker Patterson has been included in the squad, receiving his first senior call having previously featured for the Under-20s and U23s.
The 19-year-old suffered a nasty ankle injury playing for Town’s Under-21s last August, but returned to action for the final few games.
Having grown up in Auckland, Patterson was recruited by the Blues at the age of 16 in 2013 after winning the Golden Ball at the Oceania Football Confederation U17 Championship in Vanuatu.
New Zealand take on Fiji in their opening game of the Oceania Nations Cup on Saturday, May 28, then face Vanuatu three days later before completing their group matches against the Solomon Islands on Sunday, June 4.