Tuesday, February 26, 2013
TOMMY SMITH is the first to admit that his path to becoming a first-team regular for Ipswich Town has not been entirely smooth.
The 7-1 away defeat at Peterborough – albeit Smith played for just a minute as a substitute before being sent off – and the 5-2 home humbling by Southampton, both last season, saw him dropped and left in the wilderness
Then there was 6-0 reverse at Blackpool at the start of this season and, soon after, another spell on the sidelines.
Since then, a number of sterling performances alongside Luke Chambers, plus his ability to pop up with a vital goal or two, has seen him reach 100 appearances for the club and become one of the first names on Mick McCarthy’s team sheet.
“It’s always nice to reach a milestone and I am delighted to reach 100 games for the club,” said New Zealand international, Smith, who signed a new deal at the end of last season.
“I have had my ups and downs, injuries and dips in performance but I have managed to recover and my performance levels have gone up.
“There was one occasion when I felt the time might be right to move on.
“Fortunately, I was able to regain my spot in the second half of last season.”
Smith made his way through the academy system at Portman Road and during his progression, had spells away from the club on loan at Stevenage and Colchester.
His time in Essex didn’t go exactly to plan but he admits his period with the U’s was still a good experience.
“I went there and I was not really match-fit,” said Smith.
“I got a few games under my belt but didn’t perform particularly well.
“But I was able to take time to reflect on that.”
Now four-and-a-half years since making his debut at Preston, under Jim Magilton, Smith can look forward to the next 100 games.
“I’ve had some good times,” the defender added.
“My debut stands out and then there was the 5-1 win over West Ham at home.
“There was also the League Cup quarter-final against West Brom, although I didn’t play in the semi-final (against Arsenal).”