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By Stuart Watson
Friday, November 30, 2012
WE will repay your faith.
That’s Tommy Smith’s message to the Ipswich Town fans who have got behind the club’s homegrown players in recent weeks.
Proud of the club’s once great tradition of producing young talent from within the academy, Blues fans have been hurt by the premature departures of the likes of Jordan Rhodes and Liam Trotter – the Ipswich schoolboys both currently enjoying success at Championship rivals Blackburn and Millwall respectively.
And in recent years there has been disgruntlement that academy graduates such as Smith, Luke Hyam and Josh Carson have often been seen as the fall guys whenever a bad run of results has come around.
When Mick McCarthy inherited a side that was bottom of the Championship at the start of the month, he decided the situation required ‘hard-nosed professionals’. However, Smith and Hyam have both forced their way into his side over recent matches with some typically spirited displays.
Former Northgate High School pupil Hyam spoke of his pride after Town fans chanted ‘he’s one of our own’ following his goal in Tuesday night’s impressive 3-1 home win over Nottingham Forest, while Smith says he also feels the love from the Portman Road masses.
“When Luke (Hyam) came on as sub against Peterborough last Saturday the fans gave him a great reception,” said the 22-year-old. “And I think he definitely repaid that faith they showed him the other night.
“We do feel that closeness to the fans as lads who have come through the academy. I came here from New Zealand to sign my scholarship when I was 14, started watching the first team and quickly became a supporter.
“The likes of Luke and myself can sense that the supporters want us to do well and we are desperate to repay that faith.
“It’s great to see the fans so happy after Tuesday’s win because I know how much it means to them.”
Smith’s record under McCarthy consists of two wins and a draw, with the centre-back having been rested for the 6-0 defeat at Leicester due to his midweek trip to China to captain New Zealand in an international friendly.
“I think that may be a bit of a coincidence!” said Smith, when asked about his unbeaten start under the new regime.
“I’m happy with how I’m playing though and, with my next international game not until March, I hope I can cement my place in the side.”