Fatigued Mpanzu pulled out of the firing line by Luton chief to avoid breaking down ahead of Championship run-in

Midfielder sits out Potters and Rams victories

By Mike Simmonds
Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 7:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 4:45 pm
Luton midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu
Luton midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu

Luton midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu has been pulled out of the firing line for the time being to ensure he is fully fit for the Hatters’ run-in to the Championship season according to boss Nathan Jones.

The 27-year-old had played every single minute of the nine league games since the Hatters returned to action following their enforced break over Christmas, turning in some excellent performances, before he was missing from the starting line-up when Town triumphed 2-1 at Stoke City on Wednesday night.

He was also absent at the weekend for the 1-0 win over Derby County, only the second time he has missed two successive matches this term, having made 28 second tier appearances so far.

When asked if he would be available for tomorrow’s FA Cup fifth round tie with Premier League giants Chelsea, Jones said: “It’s a bit of fatigue he’s got in terms of we’re at the stage of the season where we can’t keep pushing because if they break down then they miss a big run-in.

“So we’ve taken the calculated decision to pull Pelly out of the firing line, to give him a little bit of rest and to go from there.

"While you’re picking up results it’s easier to do that as other people are stepping up and stepping in.

"We’re only as strong as our weakest link, so all those that have trained, some have had a down day, others have really trained hard and we’re only as strong as that group.

"I've been at places where that group doesn’t see the value, if we start to do that then the likes of Danny Hylton, likes of Gabe Osho, people who have come in and done unbelievably well, are not at the level because they don’t train that way.

"But we don’t have that group, so it’s really, really important that everyone’s at it.”

Town’s 1-0 triumph at the weekend saw both Henri Lansbury and top scorer Elijah Adebayo go off in the second period nursing injuries.

On their progress to make the tie against the Blues, Jones continued: “Ade had a knock and Henri had a knock for the West Brom game and was struggling.

"Then Ade hit him in the exact same spot, so it's just two little knocks and we’re just seeing if they can come through that.

"It was just on the side of his leg (for Adebayo), so we didn’t want to take any risks.

"We bring pace and power off the bench, so it's not like we’re weakening us, we're bringing on a different type of threat with Fred (Onyedinma) and he looked a threat when he came on.

"So it's a squad game, we knew that, Elijah picked up a little one but he's put in big shifts, so we dust everyone down and go again.

"We have got a big week coming up, three-game week again, Chelsea, Middlesbrough and Coventry so a lot of football to be played.

"We know we are going to need the squad in this next seven to 10 days."

Jones could also have his midfield areas bolstered too against Thomas Tuchel's World Club Cup winners and Champions League holders, as he added: “(Robert) Snodgrass is days further ahead, (Luke) Berry’s days further ahead, (Jordan) Clark you’d never think he’d been out.

"So we’ve got to manage them well as we've got 14 huge, huge games to go.

"The more we can have available for these as the Saturday, Tuesday or Saturday, Wednesday run we're on, we’re going to need the squad and it’s my job to manage them well.”