GLAD TO BE BACK

Ip­swich de­fender Tommy Smith puts his in­jury agony be­hind him

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Ben Baker

CON­SID­ER­ING he thought his ca­reer might be over ear­lier this sea­son, it is no sur­prise to see Tommy Smith en­joy­ing him­self now he is back in the Ip­swich team.

And the de­fender is de­ter­mined to put the smiles back on fans’ faces, too, as the Trac­tor Boys bid to build for next sea­son with a strong fin­ish to this cam­paign.

Smith went in for what he thought was a rou­tine back in­jec­tion in Septem­ber but was soon told he needed surgery and there was a ten per cent chance he might never play foot­ball again.

That rocked the 26-year-old – who is near­ing a decade as a pro­fes­sional at Ip­swich – but five months later he came off the bench in a 1-1 draw with Nor­wich City in Fe­bru­ary be­fore start­ing, and last­ing an hour, in a stale­mate with Wolves nine days later.

Those two re­sults were part of an eight-match un­beaten run ahead of yes­ter­day’s game at Cardiff.

Though, with seven of those games be­ing draws, the heat is still on man­ager Mick Mc­Carthy.

Smith is hop­ing to lift the mood of the Trac­tor Boys, who are lan­guish­ing in the bot­tom half of the ta­ble, and is already fo­cus­ing on im­prove­ments next term.

“I am de­lighted to be back fit,” said New Zealand in­ter­na­tional Smith, who was at­tend­ing a Kit for Kids ac­tiv­ity run by Wickes, of­fi­cial part­ner of the EFL.

“The in­jury made me re­alise how lucky we are and it also helps you take stock – one bad chal­lenge or one in­ci­dent and your ca­reer is over.

“It is great to be back fit and now I am hop­ing to en­joy the end of the sea­son, fin­ish strongly and re­ally build up the mo­men­tum for next sea­son.

Frus­trat­ing

“It is al­ways frus­trat­ing be­ing out in­jured and not playing. You just want to be out there playing and help­ing your team-mates.

“And it is even harder when the team aren’t do­ing well, be­cause you’re think­ing ‘would it be dif­fer­ent if I was there?’.

“We are much more solid at the back now but we need to start win­ning games and turn­ing those draws into three points.

“We need to get our­selves away from any rel­e­ga­tion dan­ger and build for next sea­son.

“We need to get that feel­good fac­tor back.”

While on the side­lines, Smith wasn’t twid­dling his thumbs as he con­tin­ued his dis­tance learn­ing course in ex­er­cise and sports science through Manch­ester Metropoli­tan Univer­sity and turned his hand to co-com­men­tary for BBC Suf­folk dur­ing Ip­swich’s 2-2 draw with Lin­coln City in the FA Cup.

But foot­ball is, and will re­main, his num­ber one pri­or­ity for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

“Be­ing in­jured does give you a chance to do other things, so I have been able to get out and about and sup­port the club in other ways,” added Smith.

En­joy­able

“I did a bit of co-com­men­tat­ing as it was al­ways some­thing I fan­cied do­ing and I did en­joy it. But it was so nerve-rack­ing. I am way more com­fort­able walk­ing out in front of thou­sands of peo­ple playing foot­ball than I am speak­ing into a mi­cro­phone!

“I have also been do­ing a dis­tance learn­ing de­gree that I am com­ing to the end of now. The end of a long road.

“It has been six years in the mak­ing, but my dis­ser­ta­tion is due next month. It has been tough to fit it all in with foot­ball and train­ing, but it has been en­joy­able and I’m glad I’ve done it.

“It has al­ways been im­por­tant to me and now, hope­fully, I have some­thing to fall back on when my ca­reer comes to an end, though I hope that is not for a while yet!”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

FO­CUS: Carlos Car­val­hal WEL­COME RE­TURN: Tommy Smith is an in­flu­en­tial de­fender for the Trac­tor Boys

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.