Luton play waiting game ahead of Stockport clash

HATTERS boss Gary Brabin faces a late decision over the fitness of three key players ahead of tomorrow night’s Blue Square Bet Premier clash with Stockport County at Kenilworth Road, writes Mike Simmonds.

Skipper George Pilkington, defender Dan Gleeson and striker Danny Crow all limped off during Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Newport County and although Brabin didn’t reveal names, he has worries over some other members of his squad too.

He said: “It’s quite worrying with one or two, but I don’t want to advertise where we’re struggling. We’ve still got 36 hours before the game and we’ll see how that progresses.

“There were a couple of other little surprises after the game and I always say 24-48 hours after the game is crucial, so there is a cause for concern as a few have been in for treatment.

“We’ll see how that progresses before the game as I’m sure there are people chomping at the bit to play if anyone misses out, and that opportunity may arise for one or two.”

If Pilkington doesn’t recover then Keith Keane may be called upon to fill in at the back, or young centre half Alex Lacey might be thrown as Brabin confirmed neither Dean Beckwith or Shane Blackett are ready.

He continued: “Both of them certainly won’t be fit. We’ve got options and if someone has to step in, I’m more than confident they can acquit themselves well.

“I’m also confident it wouldn’t weaken our team.”

Opponents Stockport have made a terrible start to life in the Conference as they sit in 19th place, having won once in their last 11 league matches.

Former German international Didi Hamann left the club in November and was replaced by former boss Jim Gannon, but he hasn’t been able to arrest the slide yet either.

Brabin said: “They are another side who are in the middle of a bit of a transitional period. We’re not expecting another walkover, teams come here and want to impress.

“Jim Gannon has gone back in, who’s an ex-manager there and well thought of. He’s changed things around from what Didi was doing previously and by all accounts they’ve been a bit unlucky.

“I don’t believe there’s any easy games in this league and I’m certainly not going into the game thinking it’s going to be.

“Stockport were also one of the favourites to go up. Things haven’t gone according to plan but they’ve still got the nucleus of that side who were going to be the favourites.

“As we know as a club, there’s no easy way straight back up and although Stockport aren’t challenging for promotion, I’m sure they will feel there’s only one way and that’s up and for them and there’s no bigger scalp than Luton Town away.”

When Gannon was first in charge at Edgeley Park, he led County to promotion from League Two via the play-offs before leaving as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

The boss has had spells at Motherwell, Peterborough United and most recently Port Vale, and Brabin continued: “I think if you’re a good manager or good coach, then you’ve got to work with what you’ve got.

“If it’s all tailor-made for you then the job vacancy wouldn’t be there in the first place. He’s gone there under difficult circumstances and I’m sure he’s confident enough he can turn things round as he knows the club inside out.

“Hopefully we can get maximum points from them and he can turn things round on the pitch after that game.”

Victory for Luton would lift them to within six points of Wrexham who aren’t in action, while they could cut the gap on Fleetwood to three points should the Cod Army lose at home to Barrow.

Brabin added: “We’re certainly not getting carried away after winning the last few games.

“We’re relying on others which isn’t ideal for us. At the moment, everyone has written us off and made it a two-horse race between Fleetwood and Wrexham, so they’ve got their own little personal vendetta against each other which adds its own little bit of pressure.

“Hopefully we can quietly go about our business and consecutively win games to claw some back some of that points advantage.”

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