O’Donnell: Luton squad must get over cruel play-off agony

Stephen O'Donnell
Stephen O'Donnell

Ex-Luton full back Stephen O’Donnell has urged his old club to use their play-off woe as fuel in their bid to win promotion from League Two next season.

The 25-year-old could only watch on from the substitutes bench as the Hatters were beaten 6-5 on aggregate by Blackpool recently, with the winning goal coming with the very last kick.

I think everyone will be coming back and so focused to go up automatically as that’s where you want to be.

Stephen O’Donnell

Although O’Donnell won’t be part of the squad who are aiming to go up, having been released after two years at Kenilworth Road, on how his former team-mates should approach the campaign, he said: “It would be hard for me to answer for the other boys.

“For me, if it was myself coming back, I would be disappointed and it would be tough, but the way you’d be looking at it is that, you know this feeling now.

“That’s what the gaffer emphasised, they know this feeling of disappointment, how emotional the day is for everyone at the club, and it’s up to you to come back with the motivation to want to never have that feeling again, to go up automatically and to not leave it to the lottery.

“Because as much as we did well in the games before, we’d won three on the bounce, the first time we’d done it and so you think momentum’s on our side, everything was good.

“But these things are a lottery, it’s about who turned up on the day, so I think everyone will be coming back and so focused to go up automatically as that’s where you want to be, and it will give all the fans a nice few extra weeks off.”

O’Donnell believes that the manager will have taken a great deal of experience from his first full campaign in charge, and will only benefit from moving into the superb new training ground facility at the Brache too.

He added: “He’s young and he’ll have learned a lot from this season as well, good and bad. He’s got everything to be a top manager, sometimes you’ve got everything to be a top player and it doesn’t work out sometimes, so there’s always an element of luck involved in it, but I think he certainly will be.

“As meticulous as he is with everything in training, the backroom staff as well were outstanding this year, and the new training ground that the board managed to get put in place at the end of the season certainly made my last couple of weeks at the club a lot easier.

“Just coming in to a great facility and knowing you’re probably not going to play, it certainly allowed you be a bit more positive.

“Ely Way wasn’t the most glamorous of facilities for anyone, so that was good and Nathan Jones I’m sure will do well. He was a breath of fresh air for myself personally, which is going to happen, if you’re not playing a change in manager is never going to be a bad thing and it wasn’t for me.

“I learned a lot under Nathan Jones and the staff and even the players, how they conduct themselves in different environments, different situations.

“The club as a whole will kick on. All plans are in place to get back to where it belongs and whether it takes two years or five years, I’m sure it will happen.”