Wilkinson itching to play at a packed Kenilworth Road

Luke Wilkinson makes an acrobatic clearance for Luton v Colchester. Liam Smith. PNL-140730-085822002

Luke Wilkinson makes an acrobatic clearance for Luton v Colchester. Liam Smith. PNL-140730-085822002

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Luke Wilkinson admits that signing for Luton Town is one of the best things he’s ever done and is now “itching” to play in front of a full stadium at Kenilworth Road, back where they belong in the Football League.

The centre back signed from Dagenham & Redbridge earlier this month, having been named player of the year in Hatters boss John Still’s last season at Victoria Road.

The 22-year-old, who missed pre-season last year, got a full 90 minutes under his belt in Tuesday night’s 2-2 friendly draw against League One Colchester United.

Afterwards Still admitted Saturday’s final preparation game at home to Peterborough United will be his strongest line-up yet and potentially the starting XI to play at Carlisle in their Football League return on August 9.

Wilkinson is hoping to get the nod so he can thank the manager for recruiting him for a second time.

“I’ve loved every minute of it, it’s brilliant,” the centre back said of his three weeks at Luton.

“I’ve settled in really well and all the boys have made me welcome and I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

“The manager was a big factor. I know the gaffer, he knows me and likes me as a player to bring me here so I’ve got to replay his faith in me. Hopefully I can do it.”

But the other big draw for Wilkinson is the huge fan base that will flock to see Town this term after five unbearable years in the non-league.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “No disrespect to Dagenham but getting 1,500 people a week there and then you see Luton are getting 10,000 a week – I’m just itching to get out there and play. That’s why you play football because you want to play in front of all those people.”

Wilkinson will have to wait a little longer for that because Town’s first game will see them travel to Brunton Park before a three-game run at home, starting with a League Cup first round clash against Swindon on August 12.

“The first game back in the league is going to be tough,” he said, adding: “Carlisle have just come down from League One and they’ve signed some good players so it’s going to be very tough.”

While back-to-back promotions are very much in the forefront of minds at Luton following last term’s runaway title tilt in the Conference, Wilkinson did offer a word of caution before a ball is kicked. “I think we’ve got a great chance but we’ve got to take it game by game and not carried away,” he said.“We want to be at the right end of the league but I think we can push towards the top.”