Brown not feeling under any pressure to lead Luton's bid for Championship survival
Midfielder Izzy Brown isn't feeling under any extra pressure to spearhead the Hatters' bid for Championship safety this term.
The on-loan Chelsea star was recently labelled as crucial to Town's hopes of staying in the second tier of English football by manager Graeme Jones.
After a 2-1 home defeat to Nottingham Forest, he had stated: "Izzy’s our most creative player and he has to play if we’re going to stay in the league.
"He has to play, it’s as simple as that."
Brown gave further evidence of that during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Leeds United, with his sixth assist of the season, picking out James Collins, in a goal reminiscent of the pair’s combination at Blackburn Rovers earlier in the campaign.
Last night, the 22-year-old then took centre stage himself, bursting on to Andrew Shinnie’s defence-splitting pass and beating Charlton keeper Dillon Phillips for the winning strike as Town ended a run of five straight defeats with a crucial 2-1 success.
However, Brown was quick to talk up his team-mate's importance to Town's efforts this term, saying: "To be fair, not that I don’t listen to it, but I don’t really let it get to my head, because I know that there’s more than me in this team.
“If Pelly (Mpanzu) didn’t score tonight, we wouldn’t have won the game.
"So for the manager to give me that confidence to go and show what I can do is unbelievable, but there’s another 11, 15, 20 great players here and they all contribute in different ways.
“I think as a team we’re solid, but individually I just need to keep improving, keep learning and I think we'll be fine this season.”
Jones himself knows that the former England U20 midfielder will play a pivotal role this term, so is desperate to keep him fit after injuries ruined his loan stints with Brighton and Leeds.
He said: "We missed him recently, he missed the Forest game here and the Reading game and they were probably our two worst performances of the season.
“We’ve got to get stronger as a football club because you can’t just rely on one person, and I don’t think we do, but it’s undoubted his talent.
“It's undoubted that he’s enjoying his football and he’s getting stronger with every game.
"But we still had to get him fit again during the international break because he missed two games previous to that.
“It has been a lot of work to get him back to that level.
“Good players find space and good players get on the ball, but let’s talk about James Collins’ performance in compliment to Izzy’s quality too.
“You think about Collo getting hold of the ball and all of a sudden he’s a left winger who’s got a trick in him and a jink in him.
"I was delighted with his performances in the last two, so I’m delighted overall.
“I can’t think of a player that I would be disappointed with in the last two games and that is incredibly satisfying.”
Brown has now started 10 games for the Hatters in the league this term, and completed his third 90 minutes of the campaign last night, something that he was clearly thrilled by.
He said: "If you asked me to do this last year, I wouldn't have been able to.
"There's been a lot of hard work in the summer and even when I first came here, I didn't have a real pre-season.
"I was at Chelsea, so it wasn’t too tough, and I was a bit behind.
"The first few games you could see that, I wasn't physically ready to play.
"But I think as the games are going on, I'm getting stronger and fitter.
"Now it’s good that I can finally play 90 minutes after two years of not completing a 90 minutes, so it's great to be back.
"It is tough, the last 10 minutes, the boys were saying 'dig in, give me five more minutes.'
"When you're tired and you've got players behind you encouraging you and the fans are helping you, it gives you so much.
"That five, 10 per cent extra to make that last sprint, that last tackle and gives you a lot of confidence when you've got a great team around you."
Brown has been hit hard by injuries in the last two seasons, suffering knee ligament damage when at Brighton and then saw knee and hamstring problems wreck his spell with Leeds, making just two substitute appearances.
He is hoping those days are firmly in the past now though, adding: "Touch wood yes, hopefully.
"It's tough for me to play through injuries, I've been getting little niggles from playing so many games which I haven't done for a while, that's normal.
"But I feel like my injuries are behind me and now I'm fitter and stronger than I've been before.
"I'm just going to keep working hard, every day before training I have to be in the gym working on my activation and my strength and things like that.
"I feel like the injuries are behind me and I just need to kick on in the future."