Edwards warns Luton to watch out for Everton attacker's 'wand' of a left foot

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Winger has been in excellent form for the Toffees this term

Town chief Rob Edwards has warned his side to watch out for the ‘wand of a left foot’ possessed by Everton winger Dwight McNeil this evening.

The 24-year-old is one of the Toffees main attacking threats going into the clash, as he has scored three goals from 32 top flight appearances, with six assists, having 57 shots and hitting the woodwork three times as well. McNeil, a former England U21 international, moved to Goodison Park from Burnley for a fee of around £20m in July 2022 under previous boss Frank Lampard, although he was quickly reunited with his old Clarets boss Sean Dyche once more.

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Discussing the talents of the midfielder, who scored in the 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest recently, boss Edwards said: “He’s got a wand of a left foot. There’s a couple of recent games where he’s just popped up on the opposite side, almost the right hand half space and then unleashed a couple of powerful shots, he’s hit the bar and some good saves too. He did one almost in the first minute against us at Goodison Park really early on, one that just deflected off Issa (Kabore) and he’s hit a sidewinder volley from about 25 yards that has just whistled by the post. He’s got lovely technique.”

Everton winger Dwight McNeil celebrates scoring against Nottingham Forest recently - pic: Alex Livesey/Getty ImagesEverton winger Dwight McNeil celebrates scoring against Nottingham Forest recently - pic: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Everton winger Dwight McNeil celebrates scoring against Nottingham Forest recently - pic: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

McNeil is part of an Everton side who are now assured of a place in the Premier League once more next season following a run of four straight home wins as they saw off Burnley, Forest, Liverpool and Brentford. Despite their wonderful form at Goodison Park, the Toffees have still struggled on the road in that time, hammered 6-0 in their last away match at Chelsea, as they have not won since a 2-0 success at Burnley in December 2023, a run of nine matches, losing six of them.

Edwards knows that despite that, the Toffees, who have been deducted 12 points for breaching Premier League profit and sustainability rules this term, currently reduced to eight on appeal, will be a massive test, given their recent confidence-boosting sequence on home soil. He continued: “It's a big challenge and we’ll expect their best. They have done really well, three clean sheets in a row, three wins, big games, pressured moments, they’ve dealt with it very, very well.

"I don’t know how they’ve felt this year, they’ve been right in it with all the stuff that’s been going on and in really difficult circumstances they’ve picked up a good number of points. They deserve credit for that on the pitch, no doubt about it, so we’re expecting a really difficult game. They play with real intensity and aggression, they’ve got good players as well and I suppose throughout a lot of the early part of the season, maybe they weren’t getting the rewards they were due and perhaps more recently they have been getting that, so hopefully they don't."

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Luton go into the game having not scored the first goal on home soil since their 4-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion in January, a sequence spanning six fixtures, as that day Elijah Adebayo and Chiedozie Ogbene were both on target inside the opening few minutes. It’s something Edwards would love to better this evening, as he joked: “An early four goals would be lovely, four nil after four minutes, I would be happy with that. It’s always great to get the first goal, we know the stats on scoring first, but we have scored first and still not managed to get over the line. I suppose that’s the level, but the first goal will be important.”

With the pressure now firmly on Town as they know anything but a victory will probably end their hopes of staying up, the boss hopes the magnitude of the situation will work in his side’s favour, as he added: “It has to bring out the best in us. I’ve seen the same kind of group that we've had since we’ve arrived at this football club.

"Positive, positive energy, enjoy being around each other, want to work hard, focus on the plan, focus on the training, train with intent and a purpose, but an enjoyment and a fun there as well which I think is really important. We’ve got to try and enjoy life, try and enjoy this privileged position that we’re in at the moment. We’re still in the fight so the belief has got to be there.”

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