Morgan-Smith and Wright miss Cambridge trip while Keane is a major doubt

HATTERS will be without top scorer Amari Morgan-Smith for the trip to Cambridge United on Saturday, while influential midfielder Keith Keane is also rated very doubtful, writes Mike Simmonds.

Both players limped off injured during the FA Cup win over Northampton Town last Saturday and manager Gary Brabin confirmed they haven’t trained since.

Striker Tommy Wright is also definitely missing, but the boss hopes former U’s front man Danny Crow recovers from a slight knock to make the squad.

Speaking to the press this morning, Brabin said: “Both of them haven’t trained, so we definitely won’t be having Amari Morgan-Smith. He will not be fit for Saturday and Keith is very doubtful.

“Tommy hasn’t trained, but Danny Crow is not too severe. He’s a bit tight in his hamstring, he trained with the group yesterday so hopefully he’ll come through again.”

The loss of nine-goal Morgan-Smith will be a huge blow to Hatters, while Wright has scored twice in four games, but their absences leave the door open for Stoke City forward Ryan Brunt, who joined the club on Wednesday in a work experience deal from the Premier League club.

Brabin said: “Brunt’s a young lad, and I think everyone knows I take a lot of pride in the development side of things.

“We’ve got some good young players here, coming on leaps and bounds.

“The only position where we haven’t got some young players is upfront and Ryan’s come in and certainly caught my eye.

“I think he’s had a bit of a nasty injury. He had a bit of game time (at Nantwich Town), as he went there on work experience.

“He played in the FA Cup game at MK Dons, as well as playing some reserve team football for Stoke.

“He’s a good young talent, has a bright future and I hope he can come here and show what he’s capable of.

“He is definitely one for the future. Hopefully he can bring something to the table now and he’s going to be coming in with the group and it’s up to him to convince me he can be part of the first team.”

Explaining the difference between a work experience and loan deal, Brabin said: “In terms of his contract at Stoke, he hasn’t actually started his professional contract at the moment.

“He’s still on the third year of his scholar deal, so I think it’s just the jargon. It’s a a loan if you like, but the wording is a work experience deal.”

Midfielder James Dance could well be available though as he has made a swift return to training after breaking his cheekbone only three weeks ago.

Brabin continued: “James wanted to play as soon as he got out of hospital. He has trained fully and it’s just a matter of me and him feeling whether he’s 100 percent right confidence wise.

“He wanted to be in contention last week against Northampton, so is itching to be back.”

New signing Greg Taylor looks a certain starter too after he played a part in the friendly win over Hitchin Town in midweek.

Brabin said: “I thought it was important while he was with us to get to know the group, gave him 45 minutes to get him in gently.”

Town lost 1-0 to Cambridge at Kenilworth Road in September and the hosts sit three points above Luton, in third position.

The Hatters supremo wasn’t too surprised with how well his former side had started this campaign as he said: “They’re a good club. They’ve probably been surprised they haven’t been up and around there the last couple of years.

“They’ve got some good players so, I’m not surprised by that, I’m probably surprised we’re not a little bit higher up the league.”

Defeat on Saturday could see Luton 10 points adrift of top spot, but despite currently trailing leaders Wrexham by seven points, Brabin wasn’t too concerned with Town’s position.

When asked if Hatters were playing catch up even at this relatively early stage of the season, Brabin added: “Not really, you can turn it round and say are they hanging on?

“It’s far too early. We’d certainly like more points on the board and certainly like to be in a better position.

“But I believe we’re getting the group back and we need to get them up to speed as quickly as possible.”

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