Football: All Whites defender Tommy Smith signs with Sunderland

Experienced All Whites defender Tommy Smith has signed with English side Sunderland on a deal until the end of the season.

Smith most recently played Major League Soccer for Colorado Rapids in the US, but rejected a new contract last year and has been without a club since. 

The 29-year-old has spent time training with Ipswich Town - the club where he started his career - to maintain his fitness.

There was no prospect of a contract at Ipswich, but Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth were both linked with Smith last month, although nothing came of their interest.

Smith said he can't wait to get out on the field and help the Black Cats get promoted into the Championship. Sunderland are currently fifth in League One, the third tier of English football. 

"I see myself as a leader on and off the pitch so hopefully I can use that to be a good addition," he said.

"I know a lot about the club - the history and the fan base. I am delighted to be a part of it and hopefully, I can help push the team up towards the Championship."

Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson added: "I am delighted with the signing of Tommy Smith. He is a good addition to the squad and will add competition to the back three."

The New Zealand international made 267 league appearances with Ipswich before moving to Colorado to play under then All Whites coach Anthony Hudson. Smith played 60 games before being released.

He was also part of the All Whites' most recent squad tour of Europe in November, captaining the side during the 1-0 defeat to Lithuania. 

Smith could make his debut on Sunday morning (NZ time) against the Bristol Rovers at the Stadium of Light.