Hatters boss Nathan Jones made no apologies for resting most of his summer signings in last night’s 1-0 friendly defeat to Premier League Leicester City but hailed new keeper James Shea as ‘outstanding’.
The former AFC Wimbledon ace pulled off a string of fine saves on his home debut and was just beaten in the 82nd minute by a Riyad Mahrez winner.
Shea was the only one of seven acquisitions to start, while striker Elliot Lee came off the bench in the second half of a match that saw a youthful Luton squad given a chance, plus transfer-listed duo Josh McQuoid and Jonathan Smith.
Jones said: “We’ve got a schedule to manage. This was a tricky game really because if we didn’t pay it respect it could’ve been embarrassing against Premier League opposition.
“But we’ve got another game on Saturday (against Scunthorpe), which the other group will play in and then we’ll go into the season.
“I don’t make any apologies for them (fans) not seeing our new signings. They saw one or two and one of them was outstanding tonight - James Shea.”
I don’t make any apologies for them (fans) not seeing our new signings.Nathan Jones
Former Sparta Prague stopper Marek Stech is expected to play against Scunthorpe on Saturday as Luton wrap up their pre-season schedule, but Jones is just delighted to finally have two permanent goalkeepers in his squad after have loan trouble with three last term.
He started with Christian Walton and after he was recalled by Brighton, Arsenal’s Matt Macey took his place only for him to return prematurely to the Gunners, leaving then Reading goalie Stuart Moore as the first choice.
“We identified that that became a problem for us last year,” continued the Hatters chief.
“Christian Walton did fantastically well and he’s a fantastic keeper, but he wasn’t ours, so whenever Brighton needed to recall him, they did, and that cost us.
“We built up another goalkeeper (Macey) because we play uniquely for our level and the keeper is involved in our build-up quite a lot and we do a lot of work on that, so if we have to restart again with another loan keeper then that takes time.
“Then we had to do it a third time last season and you’re just hoping to get through to the end of the season. As it was, that didn’t happen last year, so we knew that we weren’t going to go down that route again.
“You can take a loan keeper and they (the parent club) can say, ‘we won’t recall them’ but there’s always the possibility that they can.
“So we identified it and then when people became available we had the chance to get two very good ones.
“Especially for the level that we’re at, Marek will be a fantastic keeper and James, we know all about him, because he had some great pedigree before he went to Wimbledon.
“Then when he went to Wimbledon he enhanced his reputation and now he’s here and he’s doing fantastically well.”
On the defeat to Leicester, Jones added: “We came up against some real Premier League quality, [with] a lot of out of possession stuff that we had to do well and we worked hard, we defended, we grafted.
“I was a little bit disappointed at times with our quality, but maybe I’m asking too much because, a year ago, these (Leicester) were winning the Premier League. They’ve strengthened and they’re a better side since then, so it’s a great workout for us.
“It’s a shame that they scored. They had chances and I’m not saying that we deserved to draw the game or win the game because they had good chances, but it was a good test for us and a nice game.”