D3D4 Luton Town Correspondent Richard Armstong takes stock of how his Luton Town have done over the summer …
Well the end of May seems an awful long time ago now. The heartache of the playoff semi-final defeat is now hopefully just a memory to anyone connected with the Luton Town.
As the new season is now just a week away and our summer business seems to be done I thought it would be a perfect time to write my thoughts.
We have sold Cameron McGeehan to Barnsley for a reported 850k plus the traditional fantastic Luton add-ons and Jack Marriott has been sold for a reported 450k to Peterborough. Now I will miss McGeehan, the lad has a wonderful future in the game, he actually hasn’t played for us since January since breaking his leg at Pompey and strangely enough our points ratio was better without him. That said his goals will be hard to replace. As for Marriott he lost his place in the side after the emergence of Issac Vassell last year and was way down the pecking order at the club, possibly even fourth choice. So it’s the right move for all parties in my opinion.
We suffered with a major goalkeeping crisis last season. Walton was settled but Brighton recalled him on deadline day in January meaning we had to go out and sort the issue quickly. We brought in Matt Macey from Arsenal and Stuart Moore from Reading on loan deals. Moore suffered a nightmare in his first game vs Cheltenham, Macey got recalled early and Moore had an even bigger nightmare in the playoff vs Blackpool. This has now been resolved with the signings of Marek Stech and James Shea on perm deals and Harry Isted as a development keeper. Both Shea and Stech will without a doubt provide great competition for each other for the number one shirt.
Defensively not a massive lot has changed and despite the shambles of the goalkeeping situation from last year we had the second best record in the league in regards to conceding goals. Dan Potts has signed a new deal and as I write this we still have James Justin who is a reported target for Forest. We have already rebuffed a seven figure offer for him. Cuthbert, Mullins, Rea and Sheehan plus the emergence of more youth from Musonda and Famewo should be more than enough at CB. Plus a few of the above can play in other positions. Potts and Senior will battle for the LB place while Justin will have plenty of competition at RB from new signing Jack Stacey who we have signed from Reading and was part of the Exeter side that reached the playoff final.
Now for the midfield: Nathan Jones loves the diamond formation, it is without a doubt his best friend, and it drove most of us mad last season however by accounts from a lot of my fellow hatters it’s looked good in pre-season. Now we have been crying out for a proper holding tough tackling midfielder for countless years. Jones has recognised this and managed to get Alan McCormack in from Brentford which is a relief to most. Now despite losing McGeehan we have plenty of options in midfield this season. Andrew Shinnie had joined on a season long loan from Birmingham. He joins Lawson D’ath, Pelly Ruddock, Luke Gambin, Jordan Cook along with some more promising youngsters including Tyreeq Bakinson, Arthur Read and Kavan Cotter. Watch out for these youngsters especially in the checkatrade games these three could have a very big future and join Justin, Musonda and Famewo as members of the first team squad that had such an unbelievable season a few years ago for the youth team.
Now the attackers Vassell and Hylton remain. And we have managed to bring in James Collins and Elliott Lee. Collins is a wonderful signing at this level and I actually expect Hylton to get less than he did last season and do a lot of work for Collins. Vassell who has been interesting Bristol City has come on leap and bounds in the last 12 months and Lee is quite a clever footballer and may create more than he scores. There’s not a better front line in this league in my opinion.
So all in all if you had told me this time last season that we would be stronger despite losing McGeehan, Marriott, Jake Gray who went to Yeovil I’d have laughed in your face to be honest, but we are. Jones seems to have recognised his mistakes from last year and let’s not forget last year was his first full year in a management role. He is very well thought of in the game and was linked with the Wigan job in the summer.
My Prediction- Top 3. It can’t be anything else with this squad. Our main challengers will come from Mansfield and I have a feeling Lincoln will go well. Most of the time a team that comes up from the National League pushes for at least a playoff spot and they’ve made some good signings.
Coventry, Exeter, Notts County and Colchester will be in and around the Top 7 I think and you will also have teams like Cambridge, Swindon and Stevenage all fighting for the playoffs.
Between Crawley, Morecambe, Newport and Barnet. I’m throwing Barnet in there as I think they will lose Akinde and if that happens I just can’t see where the goals will come from.
words Richard Armstrong