Smith on All Whites Flight to Peru and Set to Start Play-Off Second Leg
Sunday, 12th Nov 2017 19:35
Town defender Tommy Smith is expected to be fit enough to start for New Zealand in the second leg of their World Cup qualification play-off against Peru in Lima in the early hours of Thursday morning, despite having been forced off with a calf injury in Saturday’s first game in Wellington, which ended 0-0.
Smith, former Blues loan striker Chris Wood (hamstring), now with Burnley, and West Ham defender and All Whites skipper Winston Reid (bruising) were all nursing injuries after the first game - the Town centre-half was replaced in the 67th minute - but the trio were in the party which flew to South America on Sunday with manager Anthony Hudson expecting them to be fine for the away leg, the winner of which will claim a place at next summer’s finals in Russia.
"Overall, the whole team has had a good recovery session and the medical staff say we're in a good place. We have a couple that we need to monitor, but nothing serious," Hudson said.
"In the next couple of days we need to make sure we do everything possible to get our best team on the pitch."
Smith, who has won 36 full caps, scoring two international goals, said he was confident he will be OK to take his place in the All Whites' backline as he prepared to board the first plane ahead of the 16-hour trip from Wellington to Lima via Auckland and Buenos Aires.
Town have been monitoring Smith's fitness closely since Saturday's match and the Macclesfield-born defender would have flown back to the UK had he been ruled out of the second leg.
"I have spoken to Tommy and New Zealand will obviously be assessing his progress," Town physio Matt Byard told the club site. "If he has no chance of playing he will return to us.
The 27-year-old played in all three of New Zealand’s games the last time they reached the finals, in South Africa in 2010, and also represented the nation where he lived between the ages of eight and 16 at the 2012 Olympics.
Also on the flight was Blues youngster Monty Patterson, 20, who has won 15 full caps and has scored one international goal.
Photo: Action Images
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