Roy gives thumbs up to Tommy

IPSWICH Town manager Roy Keane today gave the thumbs up to defender Tommy Smith's decision to make himself available to play for New Zealand in next summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town manager Roy Keane today gave the thumbs up to defender Tommy Smith's decision to make himself available to play for New Zealand in next summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.

The 19-year-old had the option of turning down the approach from the All Whites to try and further his career with the England set-up.

He is eligible to play for both countries having been born in England but having spent much of his childhood in New Zealand.


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Smith, who has played for the Kiwis at school level and England at youth level, was approached by New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert two weeks ago.

He made his decision public yesterday after thinking things over, with his Town manager right behind his decision.

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“Tommy had a chance to go and it was right that he took it,” said Keane.

“It is a great opportunity for him.

“New Zealand have only reached the finals once before and it is an invitation that Tommy was right to take.

“He has got to prove to the coach in the training camp that he deserves to be picked, and it is up to him to do that.”

Ipswich now look like having a representative in the most glittering sporting event of the lot - a tournament that most footballers can only dream about.

Herbert said that Smith will be included in the 23-man squad who play Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay in Group F at venues around South Africa - as long as the paperwork can be sorted.

Herbert may now have to negotiate with Keane over the player's involvement in the warm-up campaign.

Herbert said: “Tommy is very excited about the prospect - he is a young man with a big future. I've asked New Zealand Football to start doing the paperwork.

“It's wonderful news for us. I hope there are no obstacles and I think the process should be pretty straight forward as it was for Rory Fallon and Michael McGlinchey.”

Whether Smith is made available or not to play in the warm-up games, Herbert said that Smith was assured of going to South Africa.

Smith went to New Zealand with his family in 1998, made his mark with the famous Westlake Boys High School north shore, Auckland and was part of the national youth development systems.

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