Fit-again Hylton hopes 'dark days' are over after he makes goalscoring comeback for the Hatters
Town forward thrilled to make return from injury
Hatters striker Danny Hylton is hoping his dark days are over once and for all after making a successful comeback from injury during Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw at Bristol City.
The forward, who had signed for Luton from Oxford United in the summer of 2016, became an instant hit with Town fans for not only his goals, a superb 27 of them in his first term, but the manner in which he wound up both opposition players and supporters.
He followed that up with his actions on the pitch too, netting 23 times during the following campaign as Luton won promotion to League One.
Back in the third tier, Hylton then managed five goals in his first seven matches including a hat-trick against Accrington Stanley, but was then sent off at Rochdale and went 16 games and over four months without scoring, also sent off in the 1-1 draw with Sunderland, his fifth dismissal.
He ended his drought on March 2 against Rochdale and was just hitting form again with three in five before the start of his injury worries, picking up a knee problem in the 4-0 win over Doncaster on March 23, coincidentally the last game he had scored in.
Hylton missed the Hatters start to the Championship campaign and when fit, was barely used by previous boss Graeme Jones, with just two outings consisting of 24 minutes in total.
Once Nathan Jones had returned to the hotseat and the season resumed again following lockdown though, Hylton played a part in all nine of the final games as Town produced theri Great Escape.
Penning a two year contract in the summer, the forward was involved at the start of the next season, before missing another month due to injury, with another reoccurrence meaning he didn't play again after the 3-0 defeat to Stoke in February, undergoing a third operation on his knee.
With a number of offers received for his services over the summer and the recent transfer window, there had a been a chance Hylton, who also caught Covid as well, might have left Kenilworth Road.
However, the 32-year-old wanted to stay and fight for a place, rewarded with an appearance off the bench at Ashton Gate in midweek, and a first goal in almost two and a half years, drawing Town level in stoppage time.
Speaking about his road back to full fitness, Hylton said: “It’s been a bit of a tough journey, a tough few years, there’s been a few injuries, never really feeling great, never feeling right, but hopefully they’re behind me now.
“You do start to lose belief, confidence in yourself, a lot of days you spend on your own, but I’m not here to play the violin, injuries are part of our game, they happen.
“I suppose it’s how you come back from them and my wife will probably be happy now as I can stop being so miserable, the last three years she nearly left me 100 times!
“I feel fit, I feel strong now, it’s nice to get back involved, it makes all those tough times, dark days, worth it.
“You couldn’t write it, Covid, I fell down the stairs, but touch wood that’s it now, it’s all sorted.
“I’m back out there, scoring goals and fans are back in stadiums, in front of the Luton fans, it was an unbelievable feeling, one that I’ve missed a lot.”
With Town trailing 1-0 going into four minutes of stoppage time, it had looked like the visitors would somehow be heading home with nothing after a game they dominated chance-wise, missing some glorious opportunities.
Hylton was happy it was him who was in the right place to earn a point from Carlos Mendes Gomes’ cross, but felt the equaliser was something his team-mates fully deserved.
The forward continued: “It was good, putting me aside, it was just a great time to score for us.
"We worked really hard in the game, were on top in the game, missed a lot of chances, so to get the goal, we deserved to get a point, even though we probably deserved all three, was the most important thing, I know it's a bit cliche and boring!
“We always talk about it, no matter who starts, our strength is in our depth and the gaffer always goes on about game changers doesn't he.
"You saw it last week when Bez (Luke Berry) came on and scored two, it doesn’t matter if you start or if you come on, we have a real belief that even if we’re losing games we can come back in and we showed that again."
Sitting on the bench, Hylton had been itching to get on, as he felt he could help convert one of the numerous openings Town were creating and missing.
He said: “It’s only natural to think 'I would have scored that, I would have scored that,' but listen, no-one means to miss chances.
"We all miss chances, it was just more that was missing in the game.
"I’m sure if we get those chances again we’ll score them, as it’s not often you see Bez, Pelly (Mpanzu) or Cam (Cameron Jerome) miss those chances, so I'm just thankful I got on the pitch and scored.”
Although now back to full fitness and desperate to be involved against Swansea this weekend, Hylton is prepared to bide his time if need be, adding: "I’m not going to get too ahead of myself and think that goal in injury time is going to get me in the team every week.
"It starts again in training and something you just have to build on every day.
"I won’t get too excited, we've got a great squad, a great team and whoever plays I’m sure will do a good job.
"I’m just itching to stay involved and carry on, stay injury free too."