Smith sacrificed a potential international cap to play for MK Dons
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Tommy Smith may have missed out on his 51st cap for New Zealand after choosing to help MK Dons in their hour of need last week.
While the defender was in Spain with his New Zealand team-mates, and set to miss the game, injury to Anthony Stewart and Daniel Harvie suspended, former boss Graham Alexander made a hopeful call to the 33-year-old to see if he could come back.
Smith, who earned his 50th cap for the All Whites in March, was in the squad for games against DR Congo and Australia, but after making his case to Darren Bazeley, manager of New Zealand, was granted leave to miss the first game and rejoin his club.
Smith explained: “I got a call from Graham on the Monday saying that the injury to Anthony Stewart was worse than they first feared, and with Daniel Harvie suspended, they were light at centre back and he just asked whether there might be a chance they could release me to come back.
“I had to go and chat with the New Zealand manager about it, I explained what was happening at the club, and he was more than receptive. It would have been easy for him to say no, and for me to stay there, but it was very good of him to let me do it.
“It did help that I wasn't too far away, it wasn;t like I had to fly back from New Zealand, it was only a short hop from Spain, and the team met back up again on Saturday night in London so I didn't miss too much of the camp other than the first game.
“Every time I get called up, I really look forward to it. It's a shame that a lot of the time, I miss games for the club but fortunately I we managed to come to an agreement which allowed me to play last weekend.”
Smith rejoined the All Whites on Saturday night after the heartbreaking 2-2 draw, which cost Alexander his job in charge at Stadium MK, for the Tran-Tasman Cup against rivals Australia.
The defender was an unused substitute at the Brentford Community Stadium in the 2-0 defeat to the Socceroos, a result which Smith said always hurts.
“It's always disappointing to lose against them,” Smith admitted. “I think we can hold our hands up and admit they were just better than us on the night.
“We want to be competing with teams like that - they're ranked 26 in the world, but we're just outside the top 100. It's a bit of a pointer to where we want to get to for the next World Cup, but it's devastating every time you lose to them.”