Hatters captain Scott Cuthbert admitted it was a ‘mental’ experience to be thrown in against Plymouth Argyle at the weekend.
The centre half had just taken his place on the bench with Town about to kick off their League Two campaign, only to look up and see Alan Sheehan walking off with a calf injury.
“It’s certainly something that’s never happened to me before. It was mental.”Scott Cuthbert
That meant Cuthbert had to swiftly enter the fray, rushing to take over the coin toss duties before proceeding to play his part fully in the 3-0 triumph.
On just how his introduction came about, he said: “I was warming up with the lads and Sheehan has said to me ‘I’m struggling a little bit with my calf, keep yourself warm’ and I thought he’ll be okay once he gets out there.
“I’ve literally just put my bum on the bench and then got the call to go on and warm up, and it’s all a whirlwind as before you know it, you’re on the pitch playing.
“It’s certainly something that’s never happened to me before. It was mental.
“In a strange way, it’s maybe a bit better as they catch you by surprise and you can just go on there and you’re really doing things off instinct.
“Certainly your legs feel it after 15 minutes because you don’t do as intense a warm-up as you do if you’re starting, that’s just natural.
“It certainly catches you a little bit by surprise, but in terms of the match, I felt it was all right.
“I got one header in fairly early on, and a clearance that settles you down as you can grow into the game and that’s what happened luckily.”
Cuthbert was alongside Johnny Mullins at the heart of Town’s defence as the pair produced an exemplary defensive performance throughout.
On the swiftly hatched partnership, he continued: “I missed about three weeks of pre-season so have had bits and bobs with him in training, but it’s quite natural.
“He’s a really good player, knows this league inside out and I felt we settled in quite well together. That was never really an issue, I thought we did quite well together.”
Cuthbert is now hoping his performance will make it harder to be dislodged for the team, although he knows boss Nathan Jones faces tough decisions all over the pitch.
He said: “It’s quite similar to our own position in the league, I’m not getting carried away.
“It’s one game, I know that there’s competition for places and I’ve got to do as well as I can every game I get an opportunity.
“I never expected to get an opportunity today and its arose from an injury to Sheens. I’ve just got to be ready to do as well as you can to help the team and hopefully that’s enough.
“I’m sure that’s a welcome headache, sure the managers wants that from everyone, not just the defenders, from everyone involved.”
Centre forward Danny Hylton praised the impact of Town’s club captain too, adding: “Sheez going off at that stage probably disrupted it a little bit, but we’ve got a fantastic squad.
“Scotty had 30 seconds before the game to know he was playing and he came on and was probably man-of-the-match. He’s fantastic, a real leader.”