West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell was long overdue an England call-up, says ex-Ipswich Town team-mate Tommy Smith

Aaron Cresswell celebrates one of his seven goals for Ipswich Town. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Aaron Cresswell celebrates one of his seven goals for Ipswich Town. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Aaron Cresswell’s call-up to the England squad is long overdue, according to his former Ipswich Town team-mate Tommy Smith.

The Liverpudlian left-back was brought to Portman Road by former boss Paul Jewell, from League One side Tranmere in 2011, for a tribunal-set fee that eventually rose to £420,000. Three years later he switched to Premier League club West Ham in a deal initially worth £3.75m.

Now with 78 top-tier appearances under his belt, the 26-year-old was yesterday added to Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Wembley (7.45pm).

“It’s been a long time coming. I think he’s been unlucky not to get the call earlier than this,” said Smith, who started more than 100 games alongside Cresswell in the Blues defence.

“Every time he’s made a step up he has taken it in his stride. He didn’t look out of place when he first came to Ipswich and he hasn’t looked out of place in the Premier League.”

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It’s understood that Ipswich did not include any clauses about international football when negotiating his move to East London, with the deal – which could eventually rise to £7m – based entirely on club achievements.

Smith, who has remained firm friends with Cresswell since his departure, continued: “He’s always had a wand of a left foot, but he made massive improvements during his years with Ipswich.

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“The defensive side of his game improved a lot during his time here.

“He probably could have moved on a year earlier than he did, but I think that extra year he had in the Championship was crucial to his development because it’s made him more battle-hardened.

“He’s taken his game to another level since joining West Ham. Their formation, with three at the back, allows him to get forwards more and be an attacking threat.”

Centre-back Smith added: “I went to watch him at Chelsea a couple of weeks ago and he didn’t know about the England interest then, he had enough confidence in himself not to plan his wedding too soon though just in case anything happened!

“There was a bit of foresight there I think.

“I’m delighted for him. “He deserves it and I’m sure he’ll take this next step up in his stride too.”

New Zealand international Smith has been out of action since sustaining a back injury in the 2-1 defeat at Reading at the start of September.

“I’m hoping to be available again at the start of December,” said the 26-year-old. “I had an injection in my back five years ago and that kept the problem at bay, but this time I needed a slipped disc cut away.

“It was obviously a blow when I found out, but Andy Murray has had that operation and he’s just made number one in the world so I can’t be too disheartened.”

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