Bradley: Change in formation has helped me get back into the Hatters XI

Luton skipper thinks defensive switch is working well

By Mike Simmonds
Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 7:30 am
Sonny Bradley heads clear against Huddersfield on Saturday
Sonny Bradley heads clear against Huddersfield on Saturday

Town captain Sonny Bradley believes that the switch to a three-man defence is working well for both himself and the Hatters as he looks to get back to full fitness this term.

The 30-year-old missed the first month of the season after contracting a serious bout of Covid that saw him lose over a stone in weight.

After finally recovering to make the match-day squad at Blackburn Rovers, Bradley then picked up a hip problem which kept him out for two games, before returning to the starting 11 against Coventry last Wednesday as part of a back three that boss Nathan Jones had also used in the 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth.

A 5-0 thumping victory saw him keep his place for the goalless draw against Huddersfield Town on Saturday, as the skipper felt the formation gave him the best possible chance of retaining his spot considering the form his team-mates are in this term.

He said: “It did take a little time coming back after Covid.

“I had six weeks and then I came back and we have to work these things slowly.

“The sports science team did a really good job, I built my fitness up and then I was due to come back and I picked up a strain in my oblique before a game (Bristol City) which was really disappointing.

“Luckily for me I could maintain my fitness in that time, and I’ve come back in and played in the middle of a back three.

“You’ve still got to put a real shift in, but a lot of it is balance and cover, talking to the boys and I do feel like I have made a difference to the squad since I’ve come back.

“We switched to that against Bournemouth and it worked well, it probably just suits what we’ve got available at the minute, with me, Reece (Burke), Kal (Naismith) and Tom Lockyer all available.

“So if we’ve got strength in that area, why not use it?

“We’ve gone to a three and we’ve had two clean sheets, so we’re really happy with that.

“If we want to switch back to a four, I’m not sure I want to do that as I’m not sure I’ll get a game over Kal at the minute.

“I think Kal’s been excellent so far this season, so the fact that we have gone to a three has helped me out a little bit to get back in.

“But we’ve done really and the manager has played to his strengths with two athletic players up front in as well in Elijah (Adebayo) and Harry (Cornick) which allows us to get real pressure on teams and cause problems.

“So moving forward it’s good to know if we want to use a three we can use a three, but also if we want to go to a four three three, four diamond two, we’ve got that available as well, so it’s good for the manager to have.”

After Town boss Nathan Jones recently labelled Jordan Clark as the ‘best free transfer in history’, that accolade could well be shared with Naismith too who has excelled since his move in January.

When asked about his team-mate, Bradley, also signed for nothing back in June 2018 after leaving Plymouth Argyle, continued: “I thought you were going to say me for a minute, I’m not a bad free agent!

"But you’re right, Kal’s been excellent so far this season.

“Everything about him, he’s aggressive, he’s strong, he’s composed as well and that’s what you need in this division.

“If we want to continue to improve and evolve as a team, we’ve got to show composure from the back and Kal’s got that.”

Bradley’s return to the side has seen Burke miss out after the summer signing from Hull City had started the previous five games.

The skipper knew he couldn’t have any issues had he been kept out of the reckoning by the ex-West Ham defender, adding: “Reece is really unlucky to be missing out.

“I didn’t quite know the team against Coventry, Reece wasn’t in for personal reasons, but when I took a step back and had a look, if I had to miss out because of Reece, then I couldn’t really go to the manager and have a real argument as I think Reece has had a real good start to the season.

“But it just so happens that it was a three game week and I think the gaffer had the opportunity to freshen it up.

“He’s done it and looks like it’s paid off as we’ve had two clean sheets and four points.”