Buckle lauds new Town signing Ainge
Hatters boss Paul Buckle wasn’t worried with new acquisition Simon Ainge’s non-league background after signing the centre-half on a month’s loan last week, writes Mike Simmonds.
Ainge started his career at Bradford City, but on his release, joined Bradford Park Avenue before moving to Blue Square Bet North side Guiseley AFC in 2010.
Buckle said: “The majority of his football has been in non-league, that doesn’t frighten me as he’s got a ruggedness abut him which you need.
“We’ve always targeted the majority of players from a higher level.
“Certainly with centre-halves, you’ve seen and our fans have probably seen, over the years, the number of footballs that are kicked up at you aerially and it’s something we need to improve on.
“We’re sure Simon can come in and help us with that and it’s a huge part of the game. It’s not easy to find, these defenders don’t grow on trees but he’s very hungry.”
Buckle also pointed to the impact that striker Andre Gray has had at Kenilworth Road after joining Luton from Hinckley United last season.
He continued: “We’ve done very well as a club with Andre Gray as an example of taking someone from a lower level. This boy (Ainge) has been involved with England C and he really wanted to come to Luton. He’s desperate to get back in full-time training, it was ideal for him and ideal for us.”
Ainge himself is hoping for a similar of start to his Town life as Gray, although not in goalscoring terms.
He said: “I would love to come and have the impact he had, scoring in the play-off final.
“I’m a defender so it’s a bit different, but I’d love to come in and get some clean sheets and go on from there.”
On his research that went into the signing, Buckle continued: “The first people you speak to are in the England C set-up and you speak to as many people as you can, I always do that.
“When you take someone like Simon, you do your homework.
“He was captain at their football club, so it shows he’s a leader and he does want to go and head the ball.
“We spoke to the lad before he came in and said what we would be looking for in a centre-half, because we don’t want him to change.
“We want him to come in and do what he’s been doing, that’s got lots of people looking at him and he’s got his team near the top of the league.”
Buckle had hoped Garry Richards would be his first-choice centre-half this season, only for injury to scupper those plans, but the boss sees similarities between him and Ainge.
He added: “I think he’s quite similar to Garry in the way he approaches the game. He knows his strengths which are being aggressive, he’s a very strong lad and it’s something we need.
“It’s not easy finding the right player for what we’re looking for, this is why the loan suits us all.
“We’re not jumping in with both feet but at the same time we’re pretty confident we’ve found somebody that can really go and do well for us.
“You hope at the end of the month that he really likes us, we really like him and we can take this further.”
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