Keane in with a chance as Hatters may look to Stoke things up

HARD-WORKING Hatters midfielder Keith Keane is in with a chance of being fit for tomorrow’s trip to Newport County, while on-loan Stoke striker Ryan Brunt could also be handed a start with top scorer Amari Morgan-Smith definitely out, writes Mark Wood.

Friday, 25th November 2011, 1:03 pm

Keane had been a big doubt with a buttock injury, but speaking a today’s press conference, boss Gary Brabin said: “Keith trained yesterday. I think he is still feeling a bit of discomfort, but he got through mostly OK and we will see how he is today.”

Morgan-Smith, who has hit nine goals this season is ruled out with a back/hamstring injury, which could pave the way for Brunt to be handed his first start after he hit a hat-trick in a 4-1 reserve win at Stevenage on Tuesday.

Brabin continued: “Amari is unfortunately still injured, so we’ve got no Amari.

“He (Brunt) has come here and is really enjoying his football and is a really good talent. I really like him.

“He is certainly, definitely going to be a player in the next couple of years. I just hope he is good enough to help us now.

“It’s (the hat-trick) done him no harm. I thought it was a fantastic performance from him. I thought there were a few other good performances and it bodes well that we’ve got people on the fringe of things wanting to bang on the door to get in the side.”

Both Dan Gleeson and Robbie Willmott were among the players to impress for the reserves and Brabin admitted Gleeson was pressing hard for a return at right-back.

He continued: “He’s come back, training hard and played a few games and is desperate to get into the side. Rightly so he’s disappointed last week not getting a game and we’ve got a good tussle for the right-back position which I think is healthy.”

New signing, right-footed left-back Greg Taylor, also looks set to retain his lot, with Brabin saying: “If he plays right-back you would think he was left-footed. He is both-footed which is a good talent but he can play the ball with both feet but his favourite position is left-back and that’s where we like him.”

But there are no new injury concerns for Town, with Brabin saying: “Just a couple of little knocks and bruises which is the norm, but nothing too concerning at this moment in time.”

Kevin Pilkington has deputised for Mark Tyler in recent games and Brabin also admitted he may have done enough to hold on to his shirt.

“I spoke to both the keepers and, as I keep saying, I want that competition and in order for that to be believable when you get an opportunity you have got to grab it with both hands,” Brabin said:

“Kevin started the first game of the season and I pulled him straight out as soon as Mark Tyler was fit. But I had to keep convincing Kev not to lower his standards, which isn’t a hard job as he is a good professional.

“He has kept on going, kept on going and Mark realises he missed a couple of days training and Kev’s really upped the tempo a little bit which is only healthy for the club I believe and the two games he’s played I think he’s done really well and I’m delighted with that competition.”

Newport are struggling in the Conference at the moment and currently sit third from bottom, but Brabin is keen for the Hatters to concentrate on themselves.

He said: “They are changing things around and had a little bit of upheaval over the last couple of weeks. First and foremost we’ve got to focus on ourselves, it’s us I’m concentrating on. I believe once we start clicking together it’s important we start to go on a winning run.

“Now we’ve got no excuses, we’ve got bodies back and need to get that consistency.

“We do need the points. First and foremost I want us to get a little bit of consistency and it’s something I’ve wanted us to have since the beginning of the season.

“All the teams are raising their games against us so we are used to that. We just need to make sure we are right. Every game we go into we’ve got to give it 100 per cent and I’m confident the lads are going to do that tomorrow.”

A running track round the pitch will once against distance fans from the action, but the Town boss doesn’t believe it will distract his players.

He said: “Gateshead have got the same haven’t they and there are a few clubs that have got a running tracks.

“I don’t think that will make any odds and we have just got to concentrate on ourselves.”

Luton currently trail leaders Wrexham and Fleetwood by nine points and Brabin knows Luton must quickly start to close that gap if they are to stand any chance of automatic promotion.

He added: “I’m disappointed with the points gap. I would be telling lies if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But I genuinely don’t start looking too much into the league at this stage.

“There’s a lot to overcome and we need to get ourselves right. We don’t deserve to be top of the league at the moment, I do believe that. We need to sort ourselves out, get a little bit of the consistency I’ve been asking for, and start winning matches.”