Freeman relieved to have a fresh start with Luton and a manager who values him after injury fiasco at Bramall Lane

Midfielder elated to be starting in the Championship once more under Nathan Jones

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 5th August 2022, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 5th August 2022, 7:34 am
Town midfielder Luke Freeman during his Hatters debut on Saturday
Town midfielder Luke Freeman during his Hatters debut on Saturday

Hatters midfielder Luke Freeman is relieved to have a fresh start and a manager who clearly values him after making his first Championship start in almost a year at the weekend.

The 30-year-old has had a difficult time of it in recent years having joined Sheffield United, then in the Premier League, from QPR back in 2019 for what was then a club record fee for the Blades, following a sparkling two-and-a-half years at Loftus Road, where he had been named Player of the Year.

Unable to break in at Bramall Lane under Chris Wilder though, he made just 11 top flight appearances in his first season, sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest for the 2020-21 campaign, scoring once in 25 outings.

Back with United again the following term, he featured just eight times for the Blades despite their relegation to the Championship, while a loan move to Millwall was also disrupted by injury, limiting him to 13 minutes of football.

Having joined Luton in the summer on a free transfer, Freeman was named in the starting line-up for a second tier encounter for the first time since September 14, 2021, when facing Birmingham City on Saturday.

Speaking afterwards, the former Arsenal youngster spoke about reuniting with his former Yeovil team-mate and Hatters boss Nathan Jones, saying: “It’s been a tough couple of years for me, it’s not been enjoyable through either injuries, operations going wrong, or falling out of favour and not really having a chance with managers I’ve played under.

“So it’s been a real tough couple of years, but I’m really happy to see that back of that and I just want to help Luton Town have another successful season.

“I’m just delighted to be here, it’s great to have a clean start, good to have those couple of years behind me now and just concentrate on being a part of Luton Town.

“It’s nice to feel wanted as such and valued as a player, which any player will tell you that, so that certainly helps as well.”

Asked to comment further on his time at Sheffield United, Freeman continued: “I’m not going to go into too much detail, but stuff probably that I didn’t really feel like I had a fair chance down there.

"That’s football, you don’t take it personally.

"Sometimes that’s how the game works, you get a good chance, sometimes you don’t and on top of that I had a few injuries that set me back, operations that went wrong and I’m not going to retouch on that, but these things happen.

"It’s nothing personal, it’s just how football works, sometimes it works in your favour, sometimes it doesn’t.”

The misdiagnosed injury was clearly a bone of contention for Freeman though, as he said: “There was an injury, I needed surgery and I got back fit and realised it was completely wrong.

"It was like a hernia, a groin injury, so I had one of those that was supposed to be a quick turnaround that wasn’t.

"Then before I knew it, I thought I was fit, but I still had loads of problems in that particular area.

"It was going on for probably six months, I kept being told I was fine, which I wasn’t and then finally after about six months, they realised it was completely wrong down there.

"I had to go back on the operation table, so it’s just how it works in football.”

Now that is firmly behind him, Freeman showed real signs of just what he can bring to the Hatters this term, twinkling his way into some great positions on Saturday, denied a debut goal by the outstretched arm of John Ruddy and then fizzing another attempt just past the post in the second half.

After a season where Luton reached the play-offs, and with hopes high they can replicate they can go one further this term, when questioned what it was he had seen from his new surroundings that impressed him the most, he said: “I think the squad.

"You haven’t got maybe 13 players, you’ve got 23, 24 players, you’ve got players not even making the bench today who are still unbelievable talents and are probably feeling hard done by.

“It’s a relentless season, a lot of games to play and I think you see it today, the subs that have come on that have almost done as good or better.

“You see any successful team in the Championship, you need to have a good squad.

"It’s a tough, relentless year, you can’t just keep on churning out the same 11,12, 13 players every week.

"It shows the squad we’ve got, it’s what you need, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Freeman will now be hoping to keep his place for the trip to Burnley tomorrow afternoon, as he added: “We’ve all watched the game last night (Friday, 1-0 win at Huddersfield).

"We’ll be at the training ground, doing all our analysis and getting ready for the game.”