Buckle plans changes as Town look to land Mariners win

Hatters boss Paul Buckle is set to shuffle his pack as Town look to take a step closer to Wembley tomorrow night in the FA Trophy, writes Mark Wood.

Tuesday, 29th January 2013, 8:25 am

Luton head to Blue Square Bet Premier leaders Grimsby Town hoping to keep alive their dreams of silverware on three fronts.

And with so many games coming in quick succession Buckle admitted he will be looking to make changes from the side that humbled Premier League Norwich 1-0 at Carrow Road on Saturday.

However, with a limited squad, a number of players involved in that game are likely to have perform again in tomorrow night’s quarter-final.

He said: “We can’t make 11 changes unless we want to bring some of the youth players in.

“But I did play a youth player and I played couple of players in the trophy in the last round, and I can’t be accused of playing one team and I can’t be accused of not changing it.

“I’ve just got to keep thinking about it and trying to do the right things at the right times.”

Earlier in the season Town were thrashed 4-1 at Blundell Park in front of the Premier Sports cameras as they turned in one of their worst performance of the campaign.

Centre-half Simon Ainge, who was cup-tied for Saturday’s game is available, while winger Scott Neilson and full-back Greg Taylor are again ineligible as things are getting confusing for everyone.

“Neilson is a no. It’s getting more and more and more confusing as we go,” said Buckle.

“Ainge is yes can play, and Neilson is no. It would have been great to have him, but it’s not to be, with (JJ) O’Donnell coming in and O’Donnell doing what he’s done on the left, because (Greg) Taylor can’t play.

“We have to keep chopping and changing, but it’s been like that most of the season.

“The one thing now is, that the players after beating this sort of opposition, they take great belief and if we all believe and everyone sticks together through disappointment and good times like we’ve had lately, we will have a real chance.”

Victory would earn a two-legged semi-final tie against either FC Halifax Town or Dartford who meet on Wednesday night.

The other semi-final will be between Wrexham and one of Gainsborough Trinity, Gateshead or Barrow.

Buckle enthused: “I don’t look at it (the draw), I just look at tomorrow night. I look at tomorrow night and then if we’re good enough on the night to go through there’s a big prize at stake for the winners of the next one, that’s how I see it.

“We’ve got Grimsby in the Trophy, we’re in the quarter-final. If we can win and go through, which will be a really tough ask, because they are flying in the league as well, we’ll find ourself a team away from Wembley. We really want to win tomorrow night.

“We’ve had a nice meeting this morning with the players, talked about how we can take it forward again. They took the club forward massive steps on Saturday afternoon and it’s up to all of us now to try and keep that going.”

And coping with so many games was high on the agenda at their team gathering, as Buckle continued: “That was a big part of the meeting this morning.

“We spoke about replenishment after games, we spoken about playing Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday, which is a probability now, and for it not to catch us out. We know that it’s going to be a big ask, but at the same time we’re professional and we need to be ready for it.

“We had a really good meeting in terms of our food, the way we do things at home and the training schedule, because I’m looking at the training schedule now with different eyes.

“The key is to always be a step ahead and that’s what we’re trying to do now, especially with so many games which are going to come in quick succession.”

The busy fixture list means all of Town’s stars will get their chance to shine and Buckle hopes that will keep all of his players in good spirits.

He continued: “I will change it. But I will change it for the better of the squad. And we’ve spoken about this this morning in the meeting.

“What I don’t want now for the second half of the season is any long faces.

“We’ve dealt with all of that this season. We had half a season of some long faces, some have gone down the road. A couple of them are still here, but they’re smiling now and they believe.

“It’s this way we’re doing it or no way, and what I’ve asked the players to do now is totally believe in everything that we do. Leave it up to us to change it when we feel it’s right, and be ready.

“Because again, if you look at Saturday, I’ve had the four strikers in this morning, in (Andre) Gray, (Jon) Shaw, (Scott) Rendell and (Stuart) Fleetwood. And I laugh of them. Because I say you walk out on to the Carrow Road, two on the bench two starting.

“So two ultra happy and two sort of medium happy, and at the end of it it’s a complete turn-around.

“It’s about being ready, and all I’ve said to the players now is with all of these games coming thick and fast we are going to have to change it, trust it and along the way have a little bit of luck because it’s not ideal changing it.

“But with so many games coming, it’s going to be minimal training and more playing and then preparing for the next game which will probably only be 48 hours away.”

Recently the Hatters pipped Grimsby to sign Neilson, who had been on loan at Blundell Park earlier in the season. Last week Town missed out on fellow Mariners loan man and Bury winger Marcus Marshall as the northerners waged a war of words through the press.

But Buckle refused to be dragged into the debate of whether there would be any bad blood, saying: “They are throw-away comments. I’m not into throw-away comments to be honest. I’m too professional for that.”

Media numbers were still swollen at today’s press conference as the Hatters continued to bask in the glory of Saturday’s FA Cup shock.

And Buckle revealed he’s barely had a moment to reflect, adding: “It’s pretty manic at the moment.

“Obviously leaving Thursday for our preparation, I never got back to my home until yesterday evening, so it’s been an unbelievable few days, but that’s what it’s all about, that’s what we work hard for, for weekends like we’ve just had.

“No-one could foresee a win, at all. Of course there was optimism because of our victory against Wolves but nobody could have seen us beating a Premiership team away from home.

“So it’s been an amazing three or four days and I’m delighted for everyone at Luton Town.

“Looking at some of the reports, I think some were fair, some were - I’m not sure what game they were looking at because I didn’t feel we was under severe pressure.

“Of course they’ve had a couple of good chances, but we expected that and normally as an away team the home team does have chances.

“By and large it was a really accomplished performance by the lads and one where we didn’t look out of place.

“Really pleasing, it wasn’t a fluke, and for two clean sheets as well as wins is an unbelievable return for the players.”