Hatters boss Nathan Jones as confirmed that skipper Scott Cuthbert will be out until the new year after suffering a groin injury against Cambridge United last weekend.
The news is a blow for Luton, as the 30-year-old has been an integral part of an impressive Town back-line this term, making 18 appearances to date.
Basically we’re going to miss him throughout the Christmas period and then we’ll get him back for January.Nathan Jones
However, he was stretchered off during the 7-0 victory over the U’s and when asked about his scan results at this afternoon’s press conference, Jones said: “Scott’s going to be out for a little bit of time, because he’s had a slight tear in his abductor, the right side, and then the other side which we were fearful about as well, isn’t the problem.
“So it’s just going to be a few little things going on in there, but all those will heal by the time his abductor heals.
“Basically we’re going to miss him throughout the Christmas period and then we’ll get him back for January.
“It’s a shame for Scott and a shame for the team because he’s our captain, he’s been a real leader, but all it does is give someone else an opportunity.
“Johnny Mullins stepped in the other day (against Carlisle) and was pretty seamless, in terms of he goes about his job and contributed massively to a clean sheet.
“So we could dwell on it, we’ve lamented the fact we don’t have Scott available, but now we have to move on as we have others who can step in and do the job and that’s good for us,”
Mullins, who has won promotion from League Two twice before with Oxford and Rotherham, seems the most likely to take Cuthbert’s place and is fit to travel to Crewe despite going off late on in midweek.
Jones continued: “Johnny trained today, it was precautionary and when we were 3-0, it’s the time you can look after people even if it was for 10 minutes.
“It was exactly the same with Andrew Shinnie, so both of them are fine.”
Youngster Akin Famewo is another who will be hoping he gets a chance after making his first league appearance in over a year during the final minutes against Carlisle on Tuesday.
Jones said: “He’s training at a level, and we had an opportunity to loan him out a couple of weeks ago, but we felt he was too close and that’s proved to be the right decision as we couldn’t envisage that Scotty was going to be out and we’d be one down.
“He’s one we have high hopes for here and we want to keep him around.
“The trouble is with these young players they’re very impatient, they want to test themselves, they believe they should be playing first team football and it’s just about doing things right as we can’t keep everyone happy.
“The young ones have to be patient at times, so as long as they trust us with being able to handle them then they’ll be fine.”
Saturday’s clash at Gresty Road is expected to come too soon for striker James Collins too, as Jones said: “He’s back up and jogging, again, we won’t push him because we have a real tough Christmas period coming up, in terms of the games, in terms of the frequency of all the games.
“So we want to make sure we’ve got him back for the real important ones and obviously we’ve got Notts County coming here in a few weeks so we won’t rush him until then and have him back in the fold for games like that.”
Midfielder Alan McCormack is available for selection, although might need some more development games before Jones puts him back in a match-day squad, as he said: “The thing about Macca is just getting him minutes now really.
“He’s trained fully for the last two weeks now so he’s at a good level, what we don’t want to do is gamble with him.
“We want to get him minutes, put minutes in his legs so that he can really continue and affect the game and that’s all we’re waiting for.
“He’s an important player for us and he’s back in the squad and I could have put him on the bench the other night not a problem, I just don’t want to do that as a token thing.
“We want to handle him well as we want him available for the duration of the season.”
Finally, scorer of Town’s wonder goal against Cambridge, Olly Lee is available again after serving his one match suspension and on his chances of an instant recall, Jones added: “He’s in excellent form, so we’ll see what happens.
“Pelly (Mpanzu) did well in that role on Tuesday night and it was touch and go whether we played him or a Gambo (Luke Gambin), or Cooky (Jordan Cook) or Lawson (D’Ath).
“So there’s real competition and that’s what we want.
“Olly had his best game for us I would say against Cambridge as it really was, it wasn’t just the goal, but the productivity and how he went about his work was wonderful.
“Then we’ve had a difficult home game and come through that unscathed, so it’s real good competition.
“It’s good for me and gives me a little of a conundrum, but that’s what I want.”