Potts determined to nail down left back slot after Justin's departure to Leicester
Luton defender Dan Potts is determined to make the left back slot his own once more this season after the departure of James Justin in the summer.
The 25-year-old had been choice up last term until he picked up an injury during the 2-0 win over Walsall at Kenilworth Road on October 20, which led to a lengthy spell out of the side.
From there, Justin came in and went on to excel for the rest of the campaign, eventually earning a move to Premier League side Leicester City on the back of his wonderful performances.
That meant there was an opening for Potts to target though, along with Brendan Galloway who arrived from Everton.
With both injured during the early part of the season, it meant Aston Villa loan signing James Breen deputised for a handful of games, but now both are fit, Potts has got the nod, starting the last five league games for the first time in over a year.
When asked if he looked at Justin’s exit as a chance to reestablish himself as Town’s number one left back, Potts said: “Definitely. The lads have gone, fair play to them, they’ve deserved it, but now the onus is on myself and the other lads to step up to the voids they’ve left.
"Last year was last year, this year is a whole new ball game and I’m enjoying every minute.
“I feel sharp, I feel good. It’s another step up, the demands, fitness levels have got to go up, everything’s got to go up, mentally, physically, tactically.
"The manager is pushing not just myself, but everyone in there.
"Everyone’s rising to the challenge that he’s setting and all right we’ve lost tonight (against Fulham), we’re in a good moment and we’ve got to take it to Saturday now.”
The main lesson that Potts learnt from his stint on the bench last season, was that he doesn't want to go through that again any time soon, saying: "One thing you realise is you don’t want to do that, you don’t want to be just sitting on the sidelines and watching, that’s a whole different job in itself when your career finishes.
"You can learn things, but you can also take the negative and twist it into a positive, where you don’t want to be doing that, you want to play."
Potts found himself tested to the maximum on Wednesday night during the 3-2 defeat at Fulham, as he was up against on-loan Brighton winger Anthony Knockaert to begin with.
He won his mini duel, with the Frenchman eventually going to the left, but then that saw him faced with Wolves attacker Ivan Cavaleiro, who had cost the Molineux club £7m when they signed him from Monaco.
The ex-West Ham defender said: “He’s (Knockaert) a top top player, but what a better challenge for myself and especially on the other side, Cavaleiro, they’re top, top wingers.
"And (Alexsander) Mitrovic, you’re not going to get a better front three than them, on paper.
"But they’re the sort of challenges you want, you want to test yourself against the best in this league and in second half we can definitely take positives moving forwards.”
With Town trailing 2-0 on the night, it was Potts who got them back into the contest, heading home Izzy Brown’s pinpoint free kick.
It was his first goal in over a year, since netting a last-gasp winner at Oxford United, and he is now eager to get back top the kind of form he showed two seasons ago, when he scored an impressive seven during the campaign.
He said: “It's definitely something that I want to keep in my game.
"Izzy’s deliveries, they’re top, top drawer, that’s what he’s got, that’s what he can bring.
"You know he’s going to put it in an area and it’s on us lads to be in that area, get good contact and get a goal, so I'm happy with that.”
Manager Graeme Jones was thrilled to see Potts’ durability improve over the course of the season, adding: "He’s good in both boxes and Dan Potts has improved so much.
"In the last month it’s been pivotal in his career, all of a sudden he’s available, three games in a week, three games this week, he’ll be available,
"So he’s giving you a physical level, three games in seven days, the same physical output, that defines a Championship player, when you can mentally and physically perform at the same level, three games in seven days.
"So I’m delighted with his contribution.”