Hatters boss admits it has been a tough decision to leave popular Luton midfielder out

Scottish international an unused substitute at Coventry on Saturday
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Town boss Rob Edwards admitted it has been a difficult decision to leave popular midfielder Allan Campbell out of the starting XI during the Hatters’ recent matches.

The Scottish international was one of the first names on the team sheet during his debut campaign at Kenilworth Road last term, making 31 starts, plus two outings from the bench, scoring four times, winning four awards at the end of season presentation evening.

He went on to start the opening 26 games of the current Championship season, before being named on the bench for the 2-0 win at Wigan last month.

Town midfielder Allan Campbell didn't feature against Coventry on SaturdayTown midfielder Allan Campbell didn't feature against Coventry on Saturday
Town midfielder Allan Campbell didn't feature against Coventry on Saturday

He was an unused substitute for the following 1-0 victory over Cardiff, although back in the team as Town beat Stoke City 1-0.

However, Campbell was on the bench once more for the 1-1 trip to Coventry on Saturday as Edwards went with a midfield trio of Marvelous Nakamba, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Jordan Clark.

Discussing the decision, Edwards said: “We love Al, I’ve got to say that first and foremost, he’s so important to us.

"What he does on a daily basis, how hard he works, and his attitude and everyone sees that whenever he plays.

"We do have some real competition for places in that area of the pitch and it’s a difficult decision having to leave him out, as we did in the last game, not starting him.

"But we know Al and he will fight and work even harder to get back into that team.

"That’s what you want, you want a squad of people like that.”

With such a congested schedule, Luton almost finishing a run of seven games in 22 days, Edwards knows he will have to rotate his side at times to make sure tiredness doesn’t set in, as he continued: “There’s been loads of games and it’s difficult for every single player to play every single minute.

"I think everyone recognises that the game is becoming more and more of a squad game.

"It’s more high-intensity work, not necessarily the total distance that players are covering, but because you’re asking for the player to sprint and work at a really high intensity for 95 minutes, it becomes really difficult to do that three times a week all the time, because you start risking injury.

“Players are playing on the edge now because there are just so many games.

"We want to try and make sure we get that balance right between being able to fight and work and run as hard as you can on a match day, but also, we want to protect them and have everyone fit.

“So, at the right time, we’ll think someone has to come out and someone else has a go, but that’s when you’ve got a real squad that we trust and we have to try to get that right."

Although Edwards knows players might have to accept they won’t play every single game for their club, he doesn’t want them to be happy when not included, adding: “I don’t expect players to like it if they’re not playing.

"We want players to be frustrated or angry but what I don’t want is for players to be showing that with body language, or frustrations around the place.

"The way you show me is out on the grass, work really hard and when you get your opportunity take it.

"That’s the only way in my eyes, and that’s what we’ve got.

“We’ve spoken about it openly and it’s a lot about respect because I have to pick a team.

"You don’t have to agree with it, I’ll explain the reasons why and then your job is to work really hard to try to get in it, but then also respect the person that is starting because if he comes out and you go in, you want him to be able to respect you as well.

“So, it is a squad game now but the players have to accept it and there’s no other way.

"We’re all aiming for a common goal, to try to achieve as high a league position as possible, so we’re all aiming for something and we need everyone to buy into that.

“The club is the greater good, and that’s the most important thing.

"I know individuals will focus on themselves, but I’ve got to look after 20-odd people and not just focus on one individual."