McNulty welcomes competition for his place

Steve McNulty

Steve McNulty

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Hatters captain Steve McNulty believes the additions in central defence this season will only help to bring the best out of him as a player.

The skipper, by his own admission, felt he had an inconsistent campaign last time out, with a lack of genuine competition for his spot affecting both his and Luke Wilkinson’s performances.

“If me and Luke (Wilkinson) were fit then we were always going to play as there was no-one really behind us pushing us.”

Steve McNulty

This year however, that won’t the case as boss John Still has brought in Magnus Okuonghae, Scott Cuthbert and Mark O’Brien who have all played at a higher level to plreace Fraser Franks and Alex Lacey, something McNulty felt was needed.

He said: “No disrespect to the lads that were behind us last season, but if me and Luke (Wilkinson) were fit then we were always going to play as there was no-one really behind us pushing us.

“We had suspensions and injuries, we’re coming in and out of the team and if you speak to Luke, and I’m speaking on behalf of him, our form was up and down.

“We weren’t as consistent as the year before, we need lads pushing us.

“It’s down the gaffer who he picks for the first game of the season, which two he’s going to go with, but you know now this season, if you’re not playing well and not on your mettle, you’re going to come out of the team.

“It’s going to be good for the five of us, but we’re really close, so we get on with each other and push each other on.”

McNulty confirmed he had spoken with Still at the end of last year over his form and had been set some specific instructions on areas he could improve on during the summer.

He continued: “I had a chat with the gaffer and he told me I had to come back a lot fitter as he’s going to bring better players in and he’s done that.

“We’re going to get pushed no matter whereabouts on the pitch. He’s brought defenders in, forwards and midfielders, all around the pitch this season we’ve got a lot of strength in depth.

“If you’re not playing well you could come out of the team and the players that are going to come in and take your place, I think you could find yourself out of the team for a long time.

“That’s going to make you stay on your toes and know that week in week out you’ve got to perform to the best of your ability.”

It’s not just the defence that Still has bolstered too, as he has made 11 new signings in total, bringing in some real quality such as Craig Mackail-Smith, Danny Green and Paddy McCourt.

McNulty was pleased to see the switch away from unproven non-league players, added: “They’ve been great captures. He’s gone a different route this year, last year he tried with youth and we fell away.

“They got their chances when we had suspensions, injuries and the gaffer thought that they couldn’t do it, the younger lads.

“He’s brought more experienced lads in this year that are proven at the level and the level above. The capture of Paddy McCourt and Mackail Smith shows what intent he has got this year for the squad and the club.”