UPDATED: Robinson set to fill Smith void for Hatters

Young midfielder Matt Robinson looks set to be handed the unenvious task of filling the huge boots of Jonathan Smith when promotion rivals Kidderminster Harriers come to Kenilworth Road tomorrow, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 27th December 2013, 5:16 pm
Barnet v Luton Town, photos by Liam Smith. wk 52.
Barnet v Luton Town, photos by Liam Smith. wk 52.

The former Leicester City starlet is likely to start in central midfield as Town come to terms with the long-term loss of midfield dynamo Smith.

However, boss John Still is confident the Hatters have the squad to cope in his absence with Andy Parry and Solomon Taiwo on the way back from hernia operations, while on-loan Dartford man Jim Stevenson can be recalled in early January if needed.

Still said: “I think that the work we’ve done in the FA Trophy, and players playing in what I call proper fixtures will keep us in good stead.

“Obviously we haven’t got Andy Parry and we haven’t got Solomon Taiwo, two people that can play in there, but we’ve got others.

“Matt Robinson done fantastically against Wrexham, I think he was man of the match against Wrexham and I think he’s played quite a bit of first team.

“In terms of team I’m quite comfortable.”

Fortunately the Smith injury was the only new one following Thursday’s 2-1 victory at Barnet, as Still said: “No, I don’t think we have (any other new ones). I think everyone is OK fortunately, I think we’re pretty good.”

However, he was unable to predict how his players would react to Smith’s injury tomorrow against the Harriers, as he continued: “I’ll let you know tomorrow...”

Town already have West Ham United youngster Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu on loan and Still admitted Luton need to assess the likes of Parry and Taiwo before deciding if they need to bolster their squad further.

“I think what we need to do, we need to look at the situation with Parry and Taiwo in terms of how long,” said Still.

“And something that we perhaps need to have in the back of our mind is that Parry’s only just had his, Solly’s had his a few weeks ago, but we don’t know how long.

“It isn’t so much what we’ve got, it’s if we get another injury. We’ve got Jim Stevenson out on loan, we can call him back after about the fourth of January, so we’re not terrible for players, but it’s of a type sometimes.

“I think the type of player that Smudger was, he got round the pitch, could tackle, could pass and could be competitive.

“It’s of that nature, so we’ll look at what we’ve got, fit and unfit, and that will help us decide what way we want to go.”

Both Taiwo and target man Jon Shaw were warming up before the game at the Hive and Still believes there is still plenty more to come from his former midfielder.

He said: “Both coming on. Solly it’s important, because of the situation.

“Solly didn’t start the season great neither. Whether he had this problem early on but wasn’t too bad but was affecting him, we don’t know.

“I’m hoping it will be a bit in the Scott Griffiths line. Scott didn’t start the season particularly well, he’s probably one of our most consistent performers now.

“Solly’s a bit like Scott, he’s done fantastic for me, got a great move like Scott did, and if we get back a fit, proper Solomon Taiwo, you haven’t seen nothing yet. This boy is a fantastic footballer, so I’m hoping that’s going to be the situation.”

But Still doesn’t want to put any pressure on either of them by hurrying their returns, as he continued: “To be honest I haven’t pencilled them in because I’ve not wanted to rush either of them back.

“Get the training, integrate them into the squad, then when we start to do our squad work during the week, just see where they are with their fitness.

“And that’s the most important thing, where they are with their fitness.

“If they’re fit they can produce their best form, but with pushing them to be fit sometimes they can get another injury not related to the injury they’ve had, which has been a bit the case with Shawy.”

The visit of fifth-placed Harriers is another real test for his side, but Still is confident his team can again rise to the challenge.

He added: “Name a game that isn’t (important). Seriously, every game’s a big game, ever game’s important.

“These are the games that I think where if you want to become a good player and a good team, you’ve got to test yourselves against the best players and the best teams, that’s how you get better.

“And whatever test has been thrown at us so far, we’ve been up to the task. So it’s business as usual as far as I’m concerned.”