TOMMY Smith is hoping his blossoming central defensive partnership with Tom Eastman can provide the foundation for a Colchester United promotion push.

The duo have been excellent in the U’s opening two matches of the new League Two season, playing a big part in their side’s back-to-back clean sheets.

Smith has needed little time to settle in at the JobServe Community Stadium, following his summer switch.

The 30-year-old already knew Eastman from their days at Ipswich Town, when both were young professionals emerging at Portman Road.

Now they have racked up nearly 750 league and cup games between them and New Zealand international Smith is hoping they can help Steve Ball’s side achieve success.

Smith said: “Tom was a year or two below me at Ipswich but as he was coming through into the first team, I was there.

“He’s done really well here and he’ll probably go down as a club legend eventually, whenever he does hang up his boots but he’s got a lot left in him yet I’m sure.

“Hopefully we can develop a really strong partnership at the back and help be the basis for a successful season.”

Smith stood in as captain for the injured Harry Pell in Colchester’s 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers, last weekend.

The U’s have claimed four points from a possible six in their opening two matches and defender Smith is aiming to help his new club return to League One.

“The ambition here is still to definitely go up,” added the former Sunderland centre-half.

“We’ve come so close over the last couple of years and we want to make that final step and get back up to League One and beyond.

“That was a massive part of me coming here and I’ve not come here to be a League Two player for long.

“I want to help to get the club promoted and be a big part of that.

“The club were kind enough to let me train here in pre-season and after seeing what the gaffer wanted to do and the ambition of the club moving forward, it sold it to me and I wanted to be a part of that.

“At my age now, I want to be challenging at the top end of divisions and hopefully, we can have a successful season and win promotion.

“I guess part of the reason the gaffer wanted me was because of the way the club want to do things with the academy and we had some really positive conversations.

“Every year, it seems to get younger and younger around you – that goes without saying.

“But every team needs a bit of experience too and I feel like I’ve got a lot of that to bring and hopefully I can use that well with some of the youngsters.

“It’s a really talented group here and there’s no reason why they can’t go on to be successful, whether that be here at Colchester in terms of getting promoted up the leagues or earning moves themselves.”