UPDATED: Quintet ruled out for Hatters ahead of FGR encounter
Injury and illness has ruled out five of Luton’s stars for Saturday’s fixture at title favourites Forest Green Rovers, writes Mark Wood.
Midfielders Solomon Taiwo (hamstring) and Alex Lawless (groin), defenders Danny Fitzsimons (knee) and Anthony Charles, and striker Alex Wall (virus) are all sidelined for the trip to the New Lawn, while target man Jon Shaw will again play despite suffering from a hernia problem.
Speaking about the injury situation at today’s press conference, boss John Still said: “It’s about the same. Alex Lawless not quite ready. He’s had a slight little thing with his groin and he’s been out a little while and that’s to be expected but it’s not terrible.
“Taiwo’s probably not quite going to be ready, he’s got a very slight hamstring thing, but with two games at the weekend we won’t go with that. But other than that everyone is all right.”
But Still has a number of options to fill Taiwo’s place at the New Lawn on Saturday, as he continued: “We’ve got a few options and we’ve explored them options this week. So we’ll have a final look tomorrow, but with Ronnie (Henry) coming back, obviously Jonathan Smith it gives him maybe an opportunity.
“And maybe to be fair Andy Parry’s done really, really well in the development game, really well, so that’s another way to go.
“I wasn’t looking to push, push the younger players at this stage of the season, but gradually introduce them, but he’s done very well so that’s a possibility as well.”
And while he admitted he would love to have Lawless back available, he is determined not to rush him back too quickly.
Still said: “Absolutely, he’s a very good player, but it’s important that he plays when he’s fit. He hasn’t got a problem with his fitness, in terms of being bodily fit, but he’s had a slight problem with his groin.
“Because he’s been out and he’s just come back and played a couple of games those are the sort or things you get, but it’s nothing that’s going to keep him out for long. It’s nothing that’s going to set him back neither. What I’m saying is I would think he’ll be training next week and he wouldn’t have lost the things he’s picked up in the last couple of weeks.”
Experienced defender Charles remains sidelined with the shoulder injury he sustained in the 2-0 home win over Salisbury City, as Still said: “They said four to six weeks, I think and that’s what it’s going to be, four to six weeks. It’s been two weeks now so that won’t change.”
It means young defender Alex Lacey is likely to retain his place as he is given an extended run in the team.
“I think Lacey’s done OK. He was another one ideally I probably wouldn’t have started with,” said Still. “Not that I don’t fancy him, because I do, and I do want to push him. But there’s times to push, and times not to. But he’s been put in, and I’ll be honest with you, I think he’s done OK, I think he has. I think he’s come into the team and acquitted himself very, very well.
“And taking into account he’s coming into a team that pre-season did well, but has played three games and has not played well. He hasn’t come into a team where everyone’s at the top of their form which would help him. He hasn’t done that. So it’s every credit to him that I think his performances have been OK.”
Fitzsimons has also been forced back on to crutches with a knee problem – virtually the same injury he sustained on Town’s training camp to Portugal.
The Luton chief said: “Danny Fitzsimons who got injured when we were in Portugal and he’s got injured again when he played a development game against Peterborough. When he got injured the first time, he said that’s funny because I’ve never been injured in my life and he’s injured again. I think another three or four weeks for that as well.”
Powerful young striker Wall, meanwhile, is till out by a mystery virus, which has come as a particularly aggravating blow for the Hatters with Shaw struggling with a hernia problem.
Still added: “Wall, it’s a really weird one because he trained really fantastically and this has been a little bit of a blow to us to be honest because he was looking fantastic.
“When we went away to Portugal he was looking fit and strong and incredibly powerful, but picked up some sort of virus, some sort of bug and it’s really effected him. We’ve done all sorts of tests. We actually think we’ve got to the bottom of what might be causing the problem and we’re trying to deal with it at the moment.
“Fortunately it’s the time of the season where if it takes two or three more weeks gradually we can get him into it. That’s been a little bit of a blow to us to be honest because the position that he plays, Jon’s got a bit of a groin problem hasn’t he and, although I think he’s done quite well, if I’m being honest, that does need to be attended to. He’s OK at the moment, but it does need to be attended to, and it would make it a lot better if Alex was fit because it means we could allow that to happen. But I’m sure that it’s not going to be too much of a problem going forward.
“He’s training without training full out. He’s trying to tick over to keep his core fitness which he’s got. The one thing he done, he done most of pre-season. He missed the games, but he could still do some training so we’ve been able to maintain a reasonable level of fitness, but we need to get this problem sorted out first, but we’ve had test, after test, after test. They think they’ve got to the bottom of it but he’s going somewhere tomorrow that we hope can come up with the remedy for what he’s got. It might shooting!”