TOMMY Smith will never give up his international dreams – and believes he can combine his club and country ambitions.

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The centre-back has enjoyed something of a renaissance under Mick McCarthy starting five of the last six matches and pushing Premier League defender Danny Higginbotham out of the team.

The one game missed by the former Blues academy defender, the 6-0 hammering at Leicester, came about through Smith’s commitments with New Zealand after he flew to China for a friendly.

But the 22-year-old, who already has a World Cup and an Olympics on his footballing CV, will continue to try and impress at Championship level while travelling the globe with the All Whites.

The New Zealand vice-captain admitted: “It’s not the most ideal thing in the world, but (playing in China) couldn’t be avoided unfortunately.

“The gaffer spoke to me and told me he didn’t think I would be 100per cent for the Leicester game, which was understandable – I don’t think anyone would be.

“Representing my country is a big thing for me and I’ll continue to do that. It came at a bad time, but thankfully I got myself back in the team and have kept my place.”

Smith, and fellow centre-back Luke Chambers, are starting to develop a promising partnership with the Blues showing signs of tightening up at the back.

And following a run of World Cup qualifiers for Brazil 2014, Smith can now devote all his time to playing for his club and trying to keep impressing former centre-back McCarthy.

He explained: “My next game is not until March, so hopefully I can cement my place in the side now.

“When it’s a FIFA window you have to be released for it. But I’m not going to turn down the opportunity of representing my country.

“I liaise with the physios and the medical team at Ipswich. They try and get me to stay on the same sleeping patterns. I suppose with me being a youngster it helps me get over the jet-lag quicker.”

Higginbotham’s second loan spell at Portman Road runs out at the end of this month with McCarthy pondering whether to offer him a permanent deal or look elsewhere to strengthen his defensive options.

4 comments

  • Not to worry Tommy, I am sure Mick the Man fully understands the urge to play for a country you were not born in and have only a flimsy claim to represent... but it would have been easier for everyone if you too could have decided to become Irish.

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    Rob Steroo

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

  • I have been an Ispwich Town supporter since 1974. I have never had the pleasure of getting to England to see the blues play. You really don't know how lucky you are!! I'm a New Zealander who is very proud to have Tommy Smith in our national team. He always gives 100% for club and country and is a positive role model to young and old fans everywhere. Rob, you are incredibly negative about everything, take a chill pill and get over yourself. Tommy has every right to represent New Zealand. On a happier note it's absolutely brilliant to see Ipswich Town out of the relegation zone. Support the players and the club!! COYB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    MAK

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

  • Tommy you are in a good run of form, not sure I see the sense in jetting off to China for a friendly match, and not being available for a league match, for the club who pay and employ you, so you didn't juggle it. You say it could not be avoided, yet your defensive partner Ryan Nelson did just that, he did not go, yet still played for his club side on Saturday.

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    jungle boy

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

  • Tommy,with the club in the position they are in the league and bearing in mind they pay your wages I think you should put club before country,you have plenty of time on your side.

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    brisie58

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

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