COLCHESTER United captain Tommy Smith says he is looking forward to representing New Zealand again tonight.

The experienced U's defender is hoping to add to his 38 international caps with the All Whites when they take on Curaçao in a friendly, at the Al Muharraq Stadium in Bahrain.

Tonight's game against Curaçao, managed by Netherlands legend Patrick Kluivert, will mark the end of nearly two years away from senior men’s international football for New Zealand.

Smith said: “It’s an honour and a privilege every time I do get the chance to represent my country and I’m looking forward to that.

“There’s a World Cup next year that we’re all working towards.

“The pandemic has meant that we haven’t actually started our qualifiers yet and these are two friendlies before we do start them.

“Every World Cup, we have to go through a play-off scenario.

“The qualifiers are still going ahead at the moment, so we don’t know who our play-off opponents will be as yet.

“But it’s definitely possible and with the squad that we’ve got there now, players are playing at a good level throughout Europe and America so we fancy our chances."

Smith is also part of the New Zealand squad that takes on Bahrain in another friendly, on Tuesday.

The former Ipswich Town defender is set to return to Essex next Wednesday and will be available again for their clash against Harrogate Town at the JobServe Community Stadium, next Saturday.

Smith said: “It’s only a six-hour journey – it takes longer to get to Carlisle and Barrow!"

Smith missed Colchester's 2-0 defeat at Tranmere Rovers, on Friday night.

Speaking prior to leaving for Bahrain, he said had it not been for his international commitments he would have liked to have tried to help the U's get back on track following their 2-0 defeat to Salford City, six days earlier.

Smith added: “After the (Salford) result, I want to be in the team and help them bounce back.

“I’ll definitely be following what’s going on at Prenton Park and I’ll be on the end of the phone, wishing the lads all the best of luck on the day."