Hatters boss knows he has to manage star striker Adebayo's workload to avoid risk of injury

Town forward up to 12 for the season following City winner

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 8:56 am
Updated Thursday, 27th January 2022, 8:58 am
Elijah Adebayo gets the ball under control against Bristol City
Elijah Adebayo gets the ball under control against Bristol City

Luton boss Nathan Jones knows he will have to manage striker Elijah Adebayo to ensure that Town’s top scorer doesn’t have his superb season halted by injury.

The 23-year-old has started 22 out of the Hatters’ 26 Championship games so far this term, with Tuesday night's winner against Bristol City his 11th league goal of the campaign so far and 12th in all competitions.

The former Fulham youngster who joined Town almost a year ago has been a superb addition to the Luton ranks, and with his pace, power and clear eye for a goal, it’s safe to say any play-off hopes rest firm only him staying for for the rest of the season.

Jones took the decision to rest Adebayo against Sheffield United on Saturday, although he was still introduced early in the second half with the visitors trailing 2-0, a deficit they couldn't overturn.

He was then back in the starting line-up in midweek, doing what he does best, prodding home the winner in the 68th minute from James Bree's free kick, Town continuing their record of never having lost when the striker has been on target.

Although Adebayo lasted the full game, he did look in some pain at the full time whistle, walking down the tunnel somewhat gingerly, as with Luton in the middle of a run of 10 fixtures in 36 days, Jones said: “The shifts he puts in are phenomenal for a front man.

"He runs, he stretches, he does everything and that’s why we had to rest him the other day.

"I don’t leave Elijah Adebayo out willy-nilly, I leave him out because he’s at risk of getting injured, so that’s what we do.

"Some people don’t realise that and we have to manage the squad now because Championship games are relentless.

"They’re physical, they’re relentless, they’re non-stop, people come for you all the time, they go to 97 minutes and you have to be physically ready.

"Then the journey's and everything takes it out of you, people say, 'well they get paid,' yes, but they're not ponies.

"If you do it, people pick up injuries, so you have to look after them and that’s what we do now."

Meanwhile, Adebayo has demonstrated all season that he is capable of scoring all types of goals now, although the forward is making a name for himself as a six yard box predator.

Tuesday's strike was his sixth from such a position, with his record of 55% the highest from all the top four tiers of English football.

On his ability to net from anywhere, Jones added: "Absolutely and all types of performances as well as without being disrespectful, he was probably playing up on his own for the first half.

"Ade didn’t quite get into the game, he needs matches, needs games, whereas Elijah was magnificent, so we’ll take that.”