O’Donnell not overly worried by criticism from Hatters fans

Stephen O'Donnell cups his ear to the fans after scoring against Solihull Moors
Stephen O'Donnell cups his ear to the fans after scoring against Solihull Moors

Hatters defender Stephen O’Donnell isn’t overly fussed about the stick he’s received from Luton fans this season, preferring to concentrate his efforts on impressing boss Nathan Jones.

The full back, has struggled to ever fully win over the club’s supporters, particularly at home, since joining from Partick Thistle last season.

The fans can sing, the fans can boo, we just need to make sure we’re doing our best to win games, that’s the most important thing.

Stephen O’Donnell

However, with Hatters trailing 2-0 to National League side Solihull Moors at the weekend, O’Donnell was introduced from the bench at half time to turn the game around, scoring twice in a 6-2 victory.

On netting his first goal, O’Donnell cupped his ear to the Luton support who have been on his back at times this term, while on having his name chanted after adding the fifth late on, he said: “It’s nice to hear. I think I got it last week at Exeter telling me that’s why you’re not playing when I was carrying on at half time, I missed the target and got told that’s why I wasn’t in.

“So it’s nice to score the goals, as I didn’t realise I was in as a striker.

“But the fans can sing, the fans can boo. We just need to make sure we’re doing our best to win games, that’s the most important thing.

“I’ve always had stick off fans, you’re never going to keep everyone happy. I’ve just got to keep working hard and the most important person to impress is the manager.

“I certainly feel with my attitude in training I can’t have disappointed him, but at 24, it’s a crucial time for my career.

“I need to be playing football, it’s trying to strike that balance, so we’ll see what happens.”

O’Donnell, who was making his 50th appearance for the club at the weekend, admitted it’s been hard to bide his time on the sidelines in recent weeks after losing his place to youngster James Justin after the 2-0 defeat to Crawley Town.

He was then back for the 2-1 win at Leyton Orient on October 15 after Justin was injured in the warm-up, playing the next two games too, including a clean sheet at Notts County.

O’Donnell lost his place again for the 3-1 FA Cup win at Exeter and hasn’t started a league game since, as on his time out of the team, he continued: “It’s frustrating, JJ did well when he came in, but it’s just frustrating for me. We lost two games on the bounce the first time, so there’s always going to be changes, that’s not good enough for the aspirations we have.

“It was a bit more disappointing the previous time. I think we’d won one and drawn two, kept a clean sheet, but that’s football.

“I just need to try and stay in the team and if not, we’ll look at it again.

“I think those conversations are for different times, nothing ever happens in November or December. You just keep your head down and work hard and you assess your things every transfer window, that’s what you need to do as a football player.

“It’s a tough environment, all you can do is hopefully perform when you get the chance and if you don’t then you’re on the chopping board and if you play well, you could be getting pushed on.

“I’m 24, I’m hungry to play. You’re never going to be happy on the bench. You need to be content as you’re part of a squad, but you want to be playing and that’s just football.”

On the impact of O’Donnell against Moors to send Town through to round three, boss Nathan Jones said: “He’s done fantastically well and showed his professionalism in the fact that he came into it at a difficult stage and really grasped his opportunity.

“He’s been unfortunate because James has done well, but Stephen’s a real important member of what we do. Going forward he’s wonderful, he really is, he can see a pass, he’s forward thinking, he has a goal in him and that’s his third of the season.”