Crippling injury list is no laughing matter for Edwards as he wants it to 'fuel' Luton's survival bid

Town without 10 first team players for trip to Spurs
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Luton’s crippling injury list is no laughing matter for Hatters boss Rob Edwards, insisting both he and the players he has available to him, will use it to ‘fuel’ their efforts to stay in the Premier League this season.

The Hatters went into their last game against Nottingham Forest before the international break with over a third of their squad missing, Marvelous Nakamba, Sambi Lokonga, Tom Lockyer, Elijah Adebayo, Amari’i Bell, Mads Andersen, Dan Potts, Gabe Osho, Jacob Brown and Joe Johnson all absent. The fortnight off didn’t do that much to alleviate the problems either, with those who looked like they had a chance of coming back, Lokonga, Osho, Adebayo and Andersen, all still ruled out of tomorrow’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur.

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In fact the situation ended up getting worse, Chiedozie Ogbene suffered a hamstring issue while away with the Republic of Ireland that is expected to keep him out for a few weeks, as the only bits of good news saw Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Alfie Doughty passed fit after going off against Forest, with teenager Johnson having recovered from his bout of glandular fever too and likely to be involved in some capacity in north London.

Hatters boss Rob Edwards - pic: Liam SmithHatters boss Rob Edwards - pic: Liam Smith
Hatters boss Rob Edwards - pic: Liam Smith

Speaking about the problems he is facing, Edwards said: “It’s not good, we’re missing everyone that we had before and Chieo as well now, Chieo got injured on international duty. It got so bad earlier in the week that Kev Foley (transitional coach) had to train in the opposition and Kev Foley tweaked his hamstring, so I’m losing staff as well as players now.

“I’m not going to laugh about it, I’m going to try and solve some problems as we’ve got a few at the moment. Some we can solve, some are just going to be further down the line and we can't do much about it, but all you can do is try and deal with the next thing that’s in front of you, that’s Tottenham. We’ll try and play the cards that we’ve got and keep trying to get people back fit, which won’t be many.

"But let's be honest. if we just curl up and go ‘the world’s against us and we’ve got to play all these teams, we’ve got him injured and him injured,’ there's no chance. What we’ve got to do, we can talk about it, this is the situation that we’re in lads, what do you want to do? What do you want to do? I want to go out and fight, I want to go out and try to play how we play, and go and take it to them. I know our supporters would want that as well and I think that's the most important thing, to commit to how we play and what we do.

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"The best teams do it, Tottenham have done it earlier in the season when they’ve had injuries and I know we’re not Tottenham. Liverpool have had to do it, Newcastle have had to do it, we’re going through it now at a critical stage of the season, but if we become something else, if we become a different team all of a sudden, and don't show trust and faith in the group that we’re working with, then I just think that we’re going the wrong way about it.

"So I’m not going to laugh about it, I’m not going to cry about it, I’m just going to try and deal with it. It’s going to fuel us and hopefully in a couple of months time we’re going to look back and go, ‘wow, what an achievement, what an achievement,’ that’s our aim.”

Edwards believes his playing personnel, the ones he has left, are fully believing they can pull off what would be one the biggest stories in Premier League history and, against all the odds, beat the drop, as he continued: “When I look into these players eyes and talk to them, I’m convinced and I know they believe me as well, I know they believe in what we’re doing.

"We’re up against it, there’s no doubt about that, we’re up against it with a fully fit group. We’ve got a lot of senior players, big players, important players missing and it is hard to be at your best, but what it’s going to do is it’s going to fuel us. It’s going to make us stronger as a group and we’re going to fight even harder, that’s what it’s going to make us do.”

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With so many of his squad having suffered hamstring injuries this season, Edwards put it down to the increased intensity and amount of running the Hatters are having to do in the top flight. He also felt that both the club and the players themselves might have tried to push things too quickly at times during their recoveries, saying: “The sprinting in the Premier League always goes up every year, but we weren't in the Premier League last year, we were in the Championship, so the sprinting from the Championship to the Premier League is massive.

"We’re clearly fighting on a different level this year compared to last year and the lads are having to churn out the games as the squad’s really small at the moment. Even when they’re playing, none of them are 100 percent at the moment, that’s the situation, that’s where it’s at, but that’s elite level sport, that will be the same for every team.

"We’re constantly looking and thinking what can we do better? What is causing it? I know it's across the board this year, there’s been a lot more longer term ones as well in the Premier League, so I’m sure everyone’s trying to do the same sort of stuff. We’ll always try and critique ourselves and look at what we’re doing, loading and strength work and rehab, everything. We’re all involved in that, it’s a global thing, it’s not that department or that department, that’s me and the whole football club.

"I just think this year, the longer game time, the intensity for us from the Championship last year to this level is mad. For us the weather hasn’t helped, change in surfaces and I think we’ve had one or two where maybe between us and the players, we’ve probably pushed a little bit too soon to get people back and maybe it’s set us back a little bit.

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"So there’s always bits that we’re trying to learn from and get better. Some of it circumstances and some of it will be us and I’m sure that’s almost across the board as you can go through every club can’t you and say he was missing for a long time, he had to have an operation, it’s loads, but it’s difficult to deal with.”

In years gone by, Cryotherapy trucks have pulled up at the Brache in order to give players every chance of recovering from their various ailments, but they are now already in place at a refurbished training facility, as Edwards insisted the club have everything required in order to give their players the optimum opportunity of getting out on the pitch, adding: “We’ve got all that now, Gary (Sweet, CEO) and the board have been brilliant. They’re there 24/7, we’ve got everything in that gym, apart from a swimming pool, which most clubs at this level will have. The Cryo’s there, there’s a sauna, I think there’s a flipping sunbed in there as well now, so it’s all there for them.”