Keane in the mix as Hatters prepare for ‘spoilers’ Tamworth
SPOILERS Tamworth shouldn’t be underestimated according to Hatters chief Gary Brabin after they held top-of-the-table Fleetwood Town to a 2-2 home draw in their last outing, writes Mark Wood.
Having played just one game in the whole of February, the Hatters are also boosted with a number of players returning from injury as Charlie Henry (knock), Keith Keane (hamstring) and Alex Lacey (illness) all back in the reckoning.
Speaking at today’s press conference, Brabin said: “There’s always a plus side when games are getting called off.
“Certainly the plus side for us is we’ve had people who have been struggling with injuries and it gives them a bit more of a break to recover and it’s been nice seeing them on the training ground a bit more often and hopefully them players will be in contention as well.
“Alex is back training with us. Keith has started training. We are going to have to assess again after today to see how he feels.
“He is back training, he has had no reaction but he hasn’t really opened up.
“We will have see how he is and assess him again after today’s training.
“Charlie’s come in and done really well. He has probably been really frustrated he hasn’t played much football in the last 18 months or so.
“He has gone in there and done himself no harm whatsoever in the game. I thought he worked really hard and he’s probably been more frustrated than anyone with games getting postponed after putting in such a good performance (against Kidderminster).”
He will also be able to call on the likes of centre-halves Dean Beckwith and Shane Blackett who impressed in the 2-1 FA Trophy win at Kidderminster Harriers last time out.
The Luton boos said: “At the moment the one thing I’ve been asking for is I want competition right the way through the squad.
“I’m certainly getting that now where people are fully fit and fighting for each other’s places in a good manner as well.
“It’s really refreshing the way they are going about it, but you need that competition all over the squad and we’ve certainly got that at this minute in time.”
But the likes of Amari Morgan-Smith (hamstring) and James Dance (ankle) are definitely out.
On the challenge of Tamworth, who Luton beat 3-1 back in mid-December, Brabin said: “I spoke to their manager and they’ve probably been a little bit frustrated by some of the games they’ve had this season.
“They feel they’ve been a lot better than they’ve shown this season.
“I look at them and they’ve had a real good season. They’ve done well in the FA Cup, narrowly got beat by Everton in the cup, which I think does the league a good service with a team like that doing well in the cup.
“They also got a good result at Fleetwood.
“They’re a team of spoilers, but they’ve got some good players and a young manager who is getting the most out of his players and I’m sure they’ll be looking forward to coming here and trying to avenge the result we got down there.”
Ten-man Lambs came from behind to lead against Fleetwood and, although the Cod Army scored an equaliser, they were still left frustrated by the Lambs.
Brabin continued: “I went to the game myself and it was a frustrating game for Fleetwood and Tamworth made it hard for them.
“Like I keep saying there are no easy games in this league and that just goes to show.
“The history they’ve got this season in terms of playing Premier League sides in the FA Cup and they’ve got a draw away at Fleetwood, they can’t be taken lightly.
“We’ll focus on ourselves and we’re delighted with the way things are going at the minute and we’ve just got to keep doing the things we believe in and I think it’s important we put in another performance like our last one and hopefully get the three points.”
But Brabin was forced to admit the recent bad weather had hit their preparations.
He continued: “It was probably only officially our first normal day yesterday. We’ve been training on the third generation and it’s not ideal preparation, but it’s a nice change and I’m sure most teams all over the country are doing the same.
“It’s not ideal but we are pleased with what we’ve done and the way the lads have reacted and we’re looking forward to getting back playing games.
“I think it affects everyone. The weather it does tend to mess fixtures around and our progression in the FA Trophy as well makes it that little bit more difficult as well.
“Re-arranging games for spare dates. That’s not ideal but that’s football and I should think it’s affected every single club all over the country.”
Missing Saturday’s game at Forest Green Rovers was a disappointment, but Brabin is hopeful things are getting back to normal now.
He added: “I think you’ve got to get it in your head that they’re going to be on and I think you have to prepare that it’s going to be on and we never stopped believing it was going to be on until the last minute.
“Obviously we were disappointed, we were looking forward to playing again after such a pleasing performance at Kidderminster away and we wanted to carry that on into the next game.
“But it wasn’t to be. We had worked hard on the training ground and take that preparation into this next game.
“Hopefully we are over the worst of it now. It’s a bit of a nightmare for football all round.
“In one hand you can prepare for it and change things round a little bit, but it’s hard because you’ve got to prepare like every game’s going to be on.
“It messes things up a little bit but I’m sure every manager all over the country again is disappointed by that. But it is what it is.
“We are looking forward to getting back to normality in the football world now.”