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Smith available for All Whites: Hudson

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/10/2016

Coach Anthony Hudson will consider defender Tommy Smith again for the All Whites after the pair held clear the air talks.

Hudson says experienced Ipswich Town defender Smith apologised to him for his previous poor communication over international availability when they met recently in London.

The 26-year-old's unavailability for several recent international windows earned the ire of Hudson, who ruled him out of All Whites contention indefinitely in May.

Hudson said he outlined to Smith what was expected of him if he is to add to his 29 international appearances, which includes a first-choice role at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Hudson says it would have been wrong to rigidly stick to his stance of not considering Smith when the defender approached him to meet.

"Especially as the national team coach I don't think that would have been the right thing to do," he said.

"We have another good experienced professional coming back into the squad. I am really pleased we have not only a quality player but also a good character."

Hudson says he spoke with six senior members of the All Whites squad who all supported the coach over his change of stance.

Smith, who is recovering from a back injury, says he thought his international career was over but contacted Hudson to see if there was any way back.

"I was quite gutted when I saw that he said that but I think it was a strong stance to take at the time and I think he would have stuck to his guns," Smith said.

"I underlined my commitment to the cause, hopefully it can all be water under the bridge now and hopefully the squad can welcome me back with open arms."

Smith has played one friendly under Hudson, a friendly against China in 2014 resulting in a 1-1 draw.

Smith is not expected to be fit for about two months.

He will be unavailable for the opening match in stage three of the Oceania World Cup qualifying process, when New Zealand face New Caledonia in Auckland on November 12.

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