Edwards thrilled to hear Ross Barkley declare Luton is the closest squad he has ever been involved in

Town boss responds to midfielder’s glowing comments about life with the Hatters
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Luton boss Rob Edwards was more than happy to hear vastly experienced midfielder Ross Barkley state he has never been part of a squad that is as ‘close’ as the Hatters is during his lengthy and highly successful career to date.

The 30-year-old, who has had spells at Everton, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Nice, winning the FA Cup, Europa League and FIFA Club World Cup, also playing 33 times for England since making his debut for the Toffees in 2011, made the statement following last weekend’s 4-4 draw against Newcastle United, when he went on to say: "We’ve got great togetherness in the changing room. I've probably never been part of a team that’s so close and that’s a credit to the manager and the staff as well, keeping us so close, everyone’s great at the club.”

When discussing the comments coming from a player of Barkley’s ilk, Edwards himself said: “It’s nice to hear. You want players to want to come to work and want to come to training and enjoy being around the place and I know they do. To hear it from Ross, someone who’s very, very experienced and been at the very top is obviously nice to hear.”

Luton midfielder Ross Barkley celebrates one of Town's goals against Brighton recently - pic: Liam SmithLuton midfielder Ross Barkley celebrates one of Town's goals against Brighton recently - pic: Liam Smith
Luton midfielder Ross Barkley celebrates one of Town's goals against Brighton recently - pic: Liam Smith

The fact that Town are a close-knit unit is key to the Hatters’ Premier League survival chances this term, but Edwards also knows they need a lot more than just team spirit off the pitch to be able to get the results on it, continuing: “We’re not just a plucky underdog team who just run around and are mates, there’s bit more to it than that. You can’t compete and do what the players have done so far without being good, without being tactically aware and well organised and physically good.

“You get tested in all kinds of different ways at this level and the players have responded really, really well to that. They are a tight knit group and I think to be successful that really, really helps. In my experience over the years when I've been involved in teams that have done well and I’ve been a part of a team that’s done well, we’ve all enjoyed each other’s company. But also that means then you can push each other and challenge each other as well, because you care and they do care.”

Barkley was one of the shock signings of the summer at Kenilworth Road, as the club managed to somehow keep his arrival quiet until announcing it in early August. The England international took a bit of time to get going, but once fully fit, has produced a consistently majestic level of performance that has seen those who have been watching Luton for a number of years, declare the midfielder as the best player they have ever seen wear the shirt. On just why he thinks Barkley has been able to reach and maintain that kind of form, Edwards said: “I think he’s got a home, I think he’s got a group of players, mates, staff, a football club that support him, love him for what he’s really, really good at, allow him to be himself and be the best he can be.

"That’s what we try and do with all the players, and we said it when we bought him in, he wants to show people how good he is. All right he had a couple of more difficult years by his really, really high standards, but I think he’s shown how good of a player he is.”

Meanwhile, it has been mentioned more than once that Barkley should be in England manager Gareth Southgate’s squad for the upcoming European Championships taking place at the end of the current season. Town’s head of recruitment, Mick Harford, declared he was playing his way into contention, but as he has done since the calls began, Edwards preferred to stay quiet, adding: “It’s not for me to say, I’m just happy that he’s playing really well and performing for Luton, and that’s all any player who wants to get selected for their national team can do, do well for their club team. We’re delighted with Ross, we love him, he’s playing really, really well, and he’s certainly helping us.”