Barkley in the mix for Luton at Chelsea as Edwards insists former Blues midfielder has nothing to prove
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New Town midfielder Ross Barkley is in the mix for his Luton debut at former side Chelsea this evening, as Hatters boss Rob Edwards insisted the summer signing has absolutely nothing to prove against his old club.
The 29-year-old had been a teenage prodigy with Everton, breaking into the first team in August 2010 aged just 17, going on to play 150 times for the Toffees, also earning the first of his 33 England caps as well.
That saw Chelsea shell out £15m for his services in January 2018, as he spent four years at Stamford Bridge, but could never quite hit the heights he had reached at Goodison Park.
Barkley still made 100 appearances in all competitions, scoring 12 goals, but 44 of them came as a substitute, as he was loaned to Aston Villa for the 2020-21 campaign, before being released by the Blues once his contract expired, ending up going to France to play for Ligue One side Nice last term.
Returning to England, he was snapped up by Luton in the summer and is now in the reckoning for his Town debut at his old stomping ground, as Edwards said: “He could indeed, he’s been training with us now for a couple of weeks, I’ve been delighted with him, so he’s certainly in the mix.
“He’s got nothing to prove, certainly to me or to anyone.
“I can’t get in his head, I don’t know how he feels, Ross, I just know he’s hungry and he wants to play football.
"He just loves playing football, he wants to play, we can give him football, we can give him a supportive environment and allow him to go and flourish.
"He knows more than me about football and how to play, I can hopefully give him a good environment and we can help him continue to get better, but I just know that he can really, really help us.
"In terms of anything to prove, no.”
Town’s most high profile signing of the summer had been kept quiet by the Hatters until the announcement video hit their social media channels, which is no mean feat in this day and age.
The tight turnaround for the Brighton game meant Barkley arrived just too late to be considered for Luton’s opening day 4-1 defeat on the south coast, as with the Burnley game postponed to allow Town time to get Kenilworth Road up to scratch for the top flight, it has given him an extra fortnight to train with his new team-mates.
Asked just how he has settled in his surroundings at the Brache, Edwards added: “He was here a few days before the Brighton game so it’s been over a couple of weeks now and I've been really impressed.
“I’m not surprised at all, he is a top player and he’s really hungry.
"I think he’s got the bit between his teeth and wants to show people as well, so I think he'll make a really big impact for us this season, I’m really excited to see him about on the pitch for us.
"On how he’s been with us so far, brilliant.
"He’s settled in straight away, showed real humility, work-rate’s been top and his quality is there for all to see.
“With everyone we’ve brought in in recent weeks, he’s really raised the level of the group as well as I think people see him and think ‘he’s a good player’ and then it kicks other people on as well, so it does have a real impact on the group.
"There was probably an element of surprise, it probably surprised everyone as it came a little bit out of the blue, but it was something we’ve been working on for a couple of weeks.
"I’m really happy that we were able to get it done, he fits in first of all as a person, but then as a player, he lifts the level.”