Luton chief sees a 'spark' in McManaman once more
Luton boss Graeme Jones believes he has seen a 'spark' once more in attacker Callum McManaman since his summer move to Kenilworth Road.
The 28-year-old admitted in an article to the Independent recently that he hadn’t enjoyed his football since his first spell at Wigan Athletic, when Jones was assistant to manager Roberto Martinez.
There, he starred in the Latics’ FA Cup final win over Manchester City of all teams in May 2013, and was a fans favourite, before West Bromwich Albion forked out almost £5m to take him to the Hawthorns in January 2015.
Since then, he has made just 77 appearances for the Baggies, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and then Wigan again, but a hefty 54 of those have come from the substitutes bench.
He was reunited with Jones in the summer after leaving the DW Stadium, and has played three times in the league for the Hatters so far, all from the start, as Jones said: “I didn’t see the article is the truth, but I think you only enjoy football when you’re doing well and you’re winning.
“Callum hasn’t been in the team to do that enough, but I do see a spark in him again that I haven’t seen for a while.
“I think he knows that he’s got somebody that’s concerned about his welfare and his ability to max out.
"He knows that it’s very individual the work and he knows he’s got somebody that understands him, somebody that he can talk to.
“So I think he probably feels understood for the first time and he’s still a work in progress Callum.
“Nobody knows Callum like me.
"If he stays fit, as we keep pushing him on the training ground, both physically and mentally and tactically and if he does and gets a period of playing games, one v ones, there’s nobody better.
“Callum’s got nothing to prove to anybody.
"Callum’s won an FA Cup, he was man of the match in the cup final, playing against Gael Clichy.
"He’s been a Premier League player, he’s gone for big money, he’s had pressures to deal with through his career and the only person Callum McManaman needs to please is himself and I think we’re getting close to that."
McManaman had made a promising start to his Luton career, starting the first three matches of the season, but has been hampered by a minor groin niggle since.
However, he was back on Tuesday afternoon, playing and scoring the winner in a 1-0 development squad triumph over Brentford B at Griffin Park.
On his fitness, Jones added: “He's getting there, I'm really pleased with him.
"The individual work that we've been doing with has improved him visit physically.
"He’s got maybe a little bit to go, that first team football would bring, but he’s made progress and that’s pleasing.
“We’ve got good choices in that position, but I want to see Cal at his best to push the other three (James Collins, Harry Cornick and Kazenga LuaLua) and George (Moncur) if he plays there and Elliot (Lee).
“So we’ve got different styles and good choices in those positions.
"It’s not just Callum, it’s everybody else we’ve got to try and get them to max out, that’s where we are the minute.”