UPDATED: Loan man Smith straight into Hatters’ squad while Shaw remains a major doubt

Jonathan Smith. wk 45.
Jonathan Smith. wk 45.

Target man Jon Shaw is a big doubt for Town’s trip to Hereford United tomorrow (Tuesday), while new loan singing Jonathan Smith will meet up with his new team-mates en route and goes straight into the squad for the game at Edgar Street, writes Mark Wood.

Keeper Mark Tyler is also fit and available, while boss Paul Buckle is also hopeful that midfielder Alex Lawless will have recovered from a foot injury to take his place in the squad.

But it looks likely that stopper Dean Brill will keep his place between the sticks.

On the injury situation, Buckle said: “Jon’s doubtful, Alex will go close to making the game again, every hour and day is vital to us so I will give as much time as possible.

“Mark is fit now, but with the back sort of not being right over a period of time I’m probably reluctant to put him back in straight away.

“So I feel Brill’s done well and maybe give Mark a little bit longer rest.”

Midfielder Smith, 26, joined on loan from League Two York City today until January 5 and, although he is yet to meet his new team-mates, he will join them on the way to tomorrow’s game.

Buckle said: “I spoke with Gary (Mills) yesterday, from York, and it’s all agreed and he’ll be in the squad tomorrow night.”

On whether he has any chance of starting, Buckle continued: “I think I’ll have a think about that tonight. He’s in the squad and then I’ll make my mind up whether it’s right for him to come in or not.”

Last week’s away win at promotion rivals Forest Green rivals will send the Hatters into the Edgar Street clash in confident mood, and Buckle is hoping the arrival of Smith will drive his players on even further.

“Forest Green will certainly help the players, any win anywhere helps players’ confidence and I’m sure that Jonathan turning up tomorrow, joining us tomorrow en route, will push us on as well,” said Buckle.

“Because when a new player comes in players raise their game, they know the bar keeps being raised because we are trying to improve the squad when we can.

“And the other thing is as well they will find out what a top lad he is because I wouldn’t have brought anyone to the club who would disrupt what we have.”

The Town chief though admitted he is concerned about Tyler’s back that has dogged him in recent seasons.

He added: “It’s not great, he’s covered some miles in his career Mark.

“He’s a top person, a top goalie and he’s done brilliant for us this year, but we have got two goalkeepers.

“It’s the same all over the pitch. The team has changed, I’ve rested players this season, I’ve taken players out when they’ve needed to come out.

“The goalkeepers are no different. If Dean Brill wasn’t good enough to play I wouldn’t have him here.

“He is good enough to play, he’s proved that and Mark will need to take the rest while he can.

“Mark’s very agile, in the last game he played at Cambridge, he was arguably one of our best players on the day.

“He pulled off a couple of brilliant saves, but with the change in the ground I alluded to earlier, that does some strange things to players.

“They go from playing on really hard grounds to soft grounds and Mark seems to have this every season, certainly the last couple of seasons where his back just seems to flare up on him.

“It’s something we’ve got to be careful with, but the biggest thing for me is we’ve had a goalkeeper come in who has been ready for a long time.

“He’s trained very hard, Dimi’s (Kharine) kept him nice and sharp, he’s highly thought of by his peers for the way he conducts himself on a day to day basis, whether it’s in the team or not in the team.

“I feel he deserves his chance now and it’s great for me as a manager becuase I’ve got two top goalies.”