Hatters boss hits out at 'naive' EFL for not allowing five substitutes as Town's injury situation worsens

Town manager frustrated as Shea, Bree and Onyedinma after forced off at Cardiff

By Mike Simmonds
Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 1:26 pm
Hatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Luton boss Nathan Jones has criticised the English Football League (EFL) once more for their refusal to allow five substitutes this season after the Hatters saw their injury situation worsen during Monday’s 1-0 win at Cardiff City.

Moments before half-time, Town lost both wing-back James Bree and goalkeeper James Shea to what looked like serious ankle and knee injuries, both leaving the stadium on crutches, Bree with his ankle heavily bandaged and Shea in a protective knee brace.

Jones then also saw Fred Onyedinma leave the field in the second period with a groin problem, as the trio joined Jordan Clark, Luke Berry, Cameron Jerome, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Gabe Osho and Glen Rea on the sidelines.

When the 2019-20 season resumed after being postponed for Covid, teams were allowed to make five changes during a game, which was also the case last term.

However, the rule was done away with in the summer, with a vote in the coming weeks to see if it will be introduced next season, after the Premier League announced it would be allowed in the top flight once more.

With Luton’s trip to Wales on Easter Monday a fifth game in 17 days following the international break, Jones said: “It’s relentless isn’t it and that’s where we probably needed a bit of help from the EFL in terms of five subs.

"This is the most brutal league in the world, it really, really is, with technique, with athleticism, with relentlessness of games, with travel, with absolutely everything.

"Some people just sit in offices who have got no idea what it takes to prepare a player, and that’s why sometimes it waters down, as it does.

"It’s robbed us of a number of individuals as we haven’t been able to make those changes.

"They send emails out to keep the fairness in the competition ‘you’ve got to play your strongest side and you can’t rest people as you’ve got to keep the integrity of the thing.’

"Well help us out and we will, I think it’s been naive, I really do.”

Town match-winner Harry Cornick is hopeful that the players who were forced off at Cardiff aren’t set for lengthy spells on the sidelines either, as he continued: “It’s crazy the amount of injuries, but hopefully a few bodies will be coming back and the lads out won’t be out for too long.

“James Shea and Bree out and then Fred pulls up as well, it’s big losses, they’re big players for us this season.

“Hopefully they’re all okay, we’ll see what that comes out like, but more injuries, so we’ll have to bandage everyone up and go again.”

Jones could only make two changes for the game from the 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Good Friday, Dan Potts and Tom Lockyer in for Cornick and Sonny Bradley, while opposite number Steve Morison altered six of his starting XI who had been beaten 2-1 at Hull City.

It was still the Hatters who left with the points though thanks to Cornick’s 71st minute header, as Jones added: “I thought we were a lot better second half, first we were passive, we allowed them to move the ball more than they did.

"But we’ve had a massive game on Friday, against possibly one of the toughest opponents you can come up against in the Championship at the minute.

"We won that game and then to come and travel down here, they had the luxury of resting a lot of players for this game.

"Whether this game was more important to them I don’t know, but they were far fresher than us, but we just somehow found a way.”