International deadline means defender to travel to US before Bloomfield Road kick-offTommy Smith will miss today’s game against Blackpool because of his international commitments with New Zealand.
The Town defender was hoping to line up for Blues at Bloomfield Road and then fly to Los Angeles to team up with his international colleagues ahead of their World Cup Play-Off first-leg against Mexico on November 13in the Azteca Stadium.
FIFA rules though say that Tommy and his fellow English based All Whites – Leicester’s Chris Wood and West Ham’s Winston Reid - have to report to the New Zealand camp by midnight US time on Saturday.
Despite exploring every option possible, including chartering a private plane for the three players to get to the States, with the costs shared between the clubs and chartering a private plane from Blackpool for Tommy to get to a connection flight in the UK, the 23-year-old Blue can’t make the midnight deadline and play at Bloomfield Road.
He will now fly to LA this afternoon and could skipper New Zealand in front of 105,000 in the Azteca on Wednesday, with the return leg in Wellington a week later.
Reid, who is the All Whites’ skipper, will miss both games through injury, with Tommy next in line to take the armband.
The Saturday midnight FIFA deadlne relates to the CONCACAF/Oceania section in the Play-Offs and not necessarily the European games.