Hatters boss admits Adebayo was a 'mile off' as injuries take their toll on Town's Premier League bid

Luton without eight players at times in play-off semi-final

By Mike Simmonds
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 8:40 pm
Town forward Elijah Adebayo was hampered during his cameo against Huddersfield last night
Town forward Elijah Adebayo was hampered during his cameo against Huddersfield last night

Luton boss Nathan Jones was left to rue the fact that top scorer Elijah Adebayo was a ‘mile off’ full fitness as Town’s injury list took its toll on the Hatters’ Premier League ambitions this term.

The club’s top scorer had been missing since pulling the hamstring during the 1-1 draw with Blackpool recently, missing the last two games of the season and Town’s 1-1 home leg draw against the Terriers on Friday.

Hopes were raised when he was named on the bench at the John Smith’s Stadium, although it became clear from his warming up, he wasn’t operating at his optimum levels.

That was further shown when thrown on with two minutes left and Luton in desperate need of an equaliser after Jordan Rhodes had put the hosts in front from close range.

However, Adebayo could barely move, struggling to even apply pressure on home keeper Alex Nicholls, as Jones said: “He was a mile off.

"We just thought, we need a goal and we can load the box, but he can’t sprint.

"It’s a gamble we took, but when you look around, Admiral Muskwe got injured, we’ve lost Henri Lansbury and you look at the bench and we’ve got defenders to put on or players who haven’t played.

“We didn’t have that game-changer to come on a really give us that impetus.

"We’ve got eight top athletes injured, so it limited us and that’s caught up with us a little bit.”

Adebayo’s injury meant that Town were missing up to eight first team players, with James Shea, Gabe Osho, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Luke Berry, Admiral Muskwe, Fred Onyedinma and Henri Lansbury also missing.

Jones didn’t want to blame his side’s exit on the absentees, but was frustrated that they injury list severely hampered his ability to pick a full strength XI in the closing stages of the campaign.

He added: “The thing that’s caught up with us this season is that we’ve had so many injuries.

“I’ve not been able to pick my best 11, with game-changers for two months or ten weeks now.

“So, the last 15 games, we’ve been patching up, to continue that, to finish where we have, I’m just so proud.

“It’s the way it is, it’s the way we play.

"We’re aggressive, front-footed, we go after everyone, so sometimes you pick up things.

“We’ve been unfortunate, we’ve had six goalkeepers and the injury thing has been quite phenomenal, but we’ll be stronger for this.

“Let’s not complain about the injuries, let’s congratulate Huddersfield.

"They’ve been magnificent all season, fair play to them, but let’s talk about us, we’ve been outstanding and I’m so proud of them.

“Everyone has taken this on but it’s just raw now and emotional and it’s tough to take.”