Hatters boss John Still was delighted to welcome Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu back into the first team fray at Cambridge yesterday afternoon.
The influential midfielder, who has missed the last six games for Hatters, came on after an hour at the U’s and almost helped his side earn an FA Cup replay with some typically barnstorming runs.
Still said: “Pelly coming back is a plus. We weren’t going to if I’m being honest as we have a development game Tuesday, but we had so many people going down, we thought we’d go with him and give him half an hour which we did.
“Do we miss Pelly? Of course we do. Do we miss (Luke) Guttridge? Course we do. Do we miss Paul Benson? Course we do. Did we miss (Nathan) Doyle and Macca (Steve McNulty)? Course we do.
“You miss your best players and biggest influences. It’s not always you look on the pitch and say he’s a good player, it’s the influence on the team.
“Benno’s a massive influence, Guttridge is a massive influence, Macca’s a massive, massive influence and Doyle’s a massive influence.”
Despite being without a host of players, including Steve McNulty and Nathan Doyle due to injury and illness, Still was impressed with how the rest of the side coped, particularly Jim Stevenson and Paul Connolly who have been forced to sit on the sidelines recently.
He added: “You do miss them, but having said that, how do people become better players, and sometimes it’s in adversity.
“Jim’s had to be patient and I thought Jim did terrific, I was really pleased with his performance.
“He worked really hard, got around the pitch, won his share of the ball, passed it sensibly, so there were pluses within what we did.
“Paul Connolly who has hardly played this season, played left back and I wasn’t sure how he’d go with it, but I thought he did fantastic and put in a really good shift.
“Fraser’s (Franks) come in and done a good job too, so the squad is strong.”
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