Former Ipswich defender Smith joins League One promotion rivals on free transfer
PUBLISHED: 15:30 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:03 21 February 2020
Former Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith has completed a move to Sunderland.
The Town academy graduate has been a free agent since leaving Colorado Rapids at the end of the MLS season in November but has now joined up with the Black Cats.
The 29-year-old is understood to have been keen on a return to the Blues and received interest from Wigan and Portsmouth, with reported interest from Huddersfield, but he will ultimately return to playing action with Town's promotion rivals on a deal until the end of the season.
Smith said: "I've heard about the Stadium of Light and the atmosphere that is generated and I am just really excited to step out there for the first time and hopefully success can follow.
He continued: "I see myself as a leader on and off the pitch so hopefully I can use that to be a good addition to the squad."
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Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson added: "I am delighted with the signing of Tommy Smith. He is a good addition to the squad and will add competition to the back three."
Phil Parkinson's side have been in desperate need of a new central defender following the new that Bailey Wright could potentially miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury, having only signed on at the Stadium of Light in January.
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Ipswich boss Paul Lambert was asked about a potential return for Smith on several occasions, given the New Zealand international had been allowed to train with the Blues' Under 23s in a bid to retain fitness during the MLS off-season, but insisted it was a move he wasn't keen to make.
"Tommy's got his own career in the States after whatever he's had here and you can't keep revisiting that. It's crazy. You've got to move on.
"The lad done great here and was terrific but you have to move on. Football doesn't wait for anyone."
Ipswich trail Sunderland by two places and two points in the League One table, with the Black Cats holding a game in hand.
Town have taken a point from the two meetings between the teams this season, following a 1-1 draw at Portman Road in August and a 1-0 loss on Wearside earlier this month, with the potential of a play-off semi-final meeting in May should Ipswich force their way into the promotion shoot-out.