Tommy Smith tells Sunderland fans what to expect from their new signing as he opens up on move
Tommy Smith has vowed to push for a place in the Sunderland side, but says he will make a contribution whether or not he can force his way into the starting XI.
The experienced centre-half joined the Black Cats on Friday, signing a short-term deal until the end of the season.
Manager Phil Parkinson had been searching for additional defensive cover after Bailey Wright suffered a serious ankle injury that could mean he does not play again this season.
Smith has extensive experience of the English game, having played over 200 times in the Championship during a ten-year spell at Ipswich Town.
The 29-year-old told safc.com that he is not just here to make up the numbers, but hopes that his experience will help Sunderland off the pitch as well as on it.
“I've played in England for a long time and I'm a solid centre-half,” Smith said.
“I'll head it, kick it, but I don't mind getting it down and trying to play as well.
“Hopefully I'll add some depth to the squad and I'll be fighting tooth and nail to earn my place in the team.
“Whether I'm playing or not, I hope to be a good addition to the group, on and off the field.”
Smith played the last two MLS seasons with Colorado Rapids, leaving in November at the end of the last campaign.
He has been training with former club Ipswich since then as he looked to find his way back into the English game.
He admits that he missed the passion of the game on these shores and as such, sees the switch to the Stadium of Light as the ideal move.
“It's the passion of the game really, and there's no better place for that than Sunderland,” he said.
“I know all about the history of the club and the fanbase.
“To come in and be part of this is going to be a real privilege for me.
“It was good [in America].
“The lifestyle is completely different, it's a summer season.
“The football itself is probably underrated, it's a good standard, but the passion isn't quite there to the level it is over here and I've missed that.
“I've missed the fight for promotion, there's none of that over there and I've missed having that feeling every single week, so I'm looking forward to that.”
Smith last played in October and so will be short of match fitness, but Parkinson was ultimately satisfied with the results of the physical assessments the player took at the Academy of Light.
Parkinson had said on Thursday that he would only move in the market if he felt a player was close to match fitness.
“I got a call from the gaffer on Tuesday morning, obviously it was unfortunate what had happened to Bailey, but would I be interested in coming in and bolstering the squad,” Smith explained.
“As soon as I heard that a club of Sunderland's stature were interest it was a no-brainer really.”