Boss pleased with opening friendly
Paul Buckle was pleased with his side’s workout in their opening friendly of pre-season that saw the Town record a 1-0 win at Hitchin.
Adam Watkins struck three minutes before the break as the Hatters got their preparations for the new season underway with victory.
“The positives are there were no injuries, all the players had a run out, and I thought our passing and movement was good,” Buckle said afterwards.
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“It could have been a lot more than one, but Hitchin gave us a good game. You could say the first half XI was strong as we had some of the younger lads on in the second half but nobody’s got their place cemented in the side at this stage.
“The players have worked really hard in training over the past two weeks and I’ve asked them to take the elements that we’ve worked on into training into games – and we did that, and that’s important to me.
“The players are ready for 90 minutes – they’ve all got to get up to speed quickly and impress me and the staff to force their way into the starting XI for the first game – and that’s what will be happening all over the country.”
The game saw several of the Town’s new signings make their first appearances in Luton colours but the manager revealed that Garry Richards, Danny Spiller and Jon Shaw missed out for precautionary measures following injuries.
“Spiller took a knock in pre-season and aggravated his Achilles. It’s healing nicely and he’ll be back in a week or so and the same goes for Richards who went over quite badly on his ankle in Portugal,” he said.
“Jon had a hernia in the summer and we’ve had to be careful with him. He’s trained fully – and has already shown me what he’s going to bring to this club – but we trained today, Jon included, and thought it wise to rest him.”
Buckle trialled former Town stopper Dean Brill – who made 97 appearances for the club – in goal, and gave 45 minutes to fellow trailists Harry Crawford, a 20-year-old forward recently with Southend, and ex-Leicester teenage midfielder Matthew Robinson.
“I thought they all did well,” said the boss. “Matt’s a development player and as an 18-year-old he ticks all the boxes. Crawford’s game is all about being in and around the box – that’s where he’s dangerous. Brill, I liked him tonight. Mark Tyler had a stiff back and we didn’t want to risk it. We’ll see with Dean. He knows the club well and is an experienced goalkeeper.”
The manager also had praise for a number of the Hatters’ young stars and new loan signing Yaser Kasim.
“I think the fans saw what’s to come from our young players,” Buckle said. “JJ, he’s very easy on the eye and grafts well in that midfield role. If I were a scout from a big club I’d be writing some names down in my book.
“As for Yaser, I like him. He’s a class act. With all due respect to Hitchin he played the game like a stroll.
“With the likes of Howells, Lawless, Watkins, JJ all bombing on from central midfield Yaser’s good at sitting behind, using the ball, getting it off the back four. He gives us options and I want variation in our game.”
The only outstanding piece of injury news was the latest on midfielder James Dance who is making progress on his return from an ankle injury.
“James is getting there,” said Buckle. “He’s a fantastic character to have around the place and is desperate to get back.
“It’s a long road for him and he’s nearly at the end of it. I’ll be guided by Simon Parsell, our physio, but I don’t think he’s quite ready yet.”