UPDATED: Thomas set for debut after receiving international clearance
Defender Wayne Thomas has finally been given the go-ahead to make his long-awaited Hatters debut after receiving international clearance, writes Mark Wood.
Industrial action in action in Greece has delayed the 33-year-old’s availability for almost two weeks, but manager Paul Buckle is delighted to finally have his services available to him.
And the former Stoke City man looks likely to make his debut in tomorrow night’s (Tuesday) game against Macclesfield in what could be a ‘new look’ defence for the Hatters.
Buckle said: “Thankfully Tommo’s available now. So he will bring some much-needed experience into our squad.
“I think after 15 days or whatever it is you get the clearance anyway, don’t ask me to go into the rules.
“I’ve been told he can play so that’s a big plus he’s in the squad.
“He’s probably not as match fit as he would like. That is a slight problem, but at the same time he has got unbelievable experience.
“He’s got a wealth of experience. I don’t actually think in the games we’ve been over-troubled at the back.
“I don’t think anyone’s over-troubled us, I really don’t. I just think we’ve caused ourselves problems.
“With his experience I’m hoping he can settle us down and cut out the silly errors.”
Having had a threadbare squad available for Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Millwall, Buckle now has a wealth of options available to him against the Silkmen.
Defender Lathaniel Rowe-Turner is available following his three-games suspension, cup-tied wingers Scott Neilson and Dave Martin are also eligible, as is cup-tied defender Simon Ainge who had also been ruled out recently after having stitches in a foot injury.
“Simon’s OK. That’s what I’ve got to pick from. We are more than capable,” said Buckle.
“Sometimes in a season you can go through a spell where there’s individual error and it can be frustrating.
“The last two away games we’ve been done by the odd goal and they were both preventable, they really were.
“We take strength from that. We’ve done an awful lot things right as well. If we get that bit right the team’s going to take some stopping in the last 18 games, they really are.”
Buckle played down any chance of wholesale changes following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Championship outfit Millwall, but admitted there could be a new look defence following Town’s recent fragility in the back that had seen them lose 1-0 at both Dartford and Barrow in the league.
The Town chief continued: “I wouldn’t like to say quite a few changes, I think that would be unfair.
“I think what I’ve got to do is look at it logically, there’s been a lot of effort put in in the last few weeks and a lot of mental effort as well in terms of the cup.
“So a lot of highs, a few lows, highs again, lows, so we’ve got to look at it, start afresh, pick a team that’s fresh and energised for tomorrow night and if that means a couple of changes, so be it, the boys understand that. The most important thing is to go up there and be solid. I always fancy us if we can keep a clean sheet.
“I really do feel we’ve got the players to hurt teams. Whether it be from a set-play, or open play, what we’ve got to do is get the clean sheets because the teams at the top that are doing well, like Grimsby, they are keeping clean sheets and that’s what we’ve got to do.
“I don’t think we could have too many moans between ourselves if the back four changes.
“It is about clean sheets and I spoke with the defenders this morning, and I said for all the attacking play and all of the good passing, as a defender that’s what you’re paid to do, that’s your job description and really and truthfully it is a team game defending.
“But ultimately if the defenders come off at the end of the game and kept a clean sheet they’re normally the ones that get a pat on the back. So that’s what I’m looking for now.”
Individual errors were again to the fore on Saturday and rectifying that is top of Buckle’s agenda.
He added: “The first one was just a bad error weren’t it. Sometimes you are going to struggle to stop a cross coming in because players can cross it without beating you now.
“It has been poor individual error really. We have to cut them out. If we cut that out we give ourselves a great chance.
“It’s disappointing, as I spoke to you guys after the game on Saturday it was individual error and that is the hardest thing to cut out.
“That is the most frustrating thing. As a manager you work hard on the training field with the team.
“You work on your shape, you work on phases of play with and without the ball. But individual error is the toughest thing.
“Because sometimes if you have a go at people too much it can get even worse.
“We’ve got to be more professional, we’ve got to really not take any risk now, we’ve been punished on Saturday and we’ve got to cut it out.”