Town's Tommy poised for World Cup call

IPSWICH Town central defender Tommy Smith could play in next year's world cup finals in South Africa.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town central defender Tommy Smith could play in next year's world cup finals in South Africa.

The 19-year-old has duel qualification for New Zealand and England with the All Whites needing to beat Bahrain in Wellington on November 14 to qualify for the final stages of football's biggest showdown.

Smith, who has established himself in the Ipswich team and started the last five matches, was born in Macclesfield, but spent most of his schoolboy years in New Zealand.

They wanted him to play for them at Under-17 level, but he chose England and he also has Under-18 England caps.

He has up to the age of 21 to decide which country he wants to play for at senior level, and being some considerable way down the England pecking order he could well be swayed by an appearance in South Africa next summer to opt for the southern hemisphere country.

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There is no doubt that the Kiwis would take him with open arms and his chances of making their starting line-up would be high.

Smith, who signed a three-year Ipswich deal in August 2007, has made it known that he is currently concentrating on his club football after missing most of last season with a broken ankle.

“I have not thought about the international side of my game,” he said. “All my thoughts are on playing for Ipswich and establishing myself in the first team squad.”

New Zealand won the Oceana Group - a task made easier by Australia's decision to Asian Group - but have to beat Middle East Bahrain in a two-legged play-off to earn a place with the elite in South Africa.

They drew the first leg 0-0 in Bahrain earlier this month and are favourites to complete an aggregate victory in Wellington's 'Biscuit Tin' stadium next month.

Smith could be joined in South Africa by a second Town player with goalkeeper Asmir Begovic set to be in the Bosnia and Herzegovina squad for their European group play-offs against Portugal on November 14 and 18.

Begovic is a Portsmouth player currently on a three-month loan at Portman Road with boss Paul Hart saying he sees the 22-year-old having a Pompey future.

But Hart is happy for Begovic to currently gain experience and the keeper's Town loan period could well be extended to the end of the season.

Begovic, who played for Canada up to Under-20 level, made his Bosnian debut last month and his current good form for Ipswich will have been noted.