Shea ready to push Stech all the way after starring role

Town keeper James Shea dribbles round Leicester striker Leonardo Ulloa
Town keeper James Shea dribbles round Leicester striker Leonardo Ulloa

James Shea knows Marek Stech will be the immediate first choice Luton goalkeeper but says boss Nathan Jones has promised him that he'll play on merit.

The two stoppers have been signed this summer to deal with Town's custodian uncertainty from last season, which saw them field three loan men after Christian Walton and Matt Macey were recalled by Brighton and Arsenal respectively.

James Shea makes another fine save on Wednesday night

James Shea makes another fine save on Wednesday night

Former AFC Wimbledon stopper Shea put in a man-of-the-match display last night as he played his second full 90 minutes for Luton in the 1-0 home pre-season defeat to Premier League Leicester City on Wednesday evening.

Stech, a former Sparta Prague goalie, will play in Town's final pre-season game on Saturday at home to Scunthorpe and, as he has the number one jersey, is also expected to start the League Two curtain-raiser next weekend against Yeovil Town.

But Shea did his selection chances no harm during midweek by repelling Leicester almost single-handedly until the 82nd minute when Riyad Mahrez squeezed in the winner.

Asked what Jones told him when he joined the Hatters on a one-year deal, the 26-year-old said: "He just told me, when I first joined, that he brought Stechy in and said that, 'if I had a game tomorrow, Stechy would play', because he knows Stechy and that's fair enough.

"He wants me to come in, push Stechy and see what happens. He said, 'at the end of the day, whoever is doing well is going to play', and that's all I can ask for.

"I want to show what I can do, Stechy wants to show what he can do and whoever plays in that first game of the season, we'll both get behind 100 per cent.

"Stechy has been at Sparta Prague, Yeovil, done it and worn the t-shirt, so I know it's not going to be easy. I've got to work hard, keep my head down and, when I get the chance, play well. That's all I can do, really."

A stunning one-handed stop to deny Islam Slimani last night was the pick of the saves, which showed that Shea will be ready to perform whenever he's called upon.

He said: "That's what I'm there to do - try to keep the ball out of the net by any means possible, really. I was lucky enough to make some good saves and long may that continue."

But Shea was disappointed at not capping his star showing with a shut-out, saying: "I was gutted. I was desperate for that clean sheet, I really was.

"I was making saves and, for the way the ball just landed, it's one of those things.

"There's nothing you can do about it, it's just a bit of bad luck. Sheez (Alan Sheehan) made a great block on the line and it has just hit me before I've even known and it has gone in."