Hatters boss would have no problem in putting Isted in from the start against Tangerines

Keeper is yet to officially play for the Hatters according to the rules

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 21st April 2022, 2:28 pm
Harry Isted applauds the Town fans at Cardiff on Monday - pic: Gareth Owen
Harry Isted applauds the Town fans at Cardiff on Monday - pic: Gareth Owen

Luton boss Nathan Jones has confirmed he would be happy to go with the inexperienced Harry Isted in goal for Saturday’s home clash against Blackpool.

The 25-year-old made his second appearance of the season on Monday when he was summoned from the bench to replace James Shea, after Town’s number one suffered a serious looking knee injury following a collision with team-mate Tom Lockyer.

As he had against Chelsea in the FA Cup, the former Stoke and Southampton youngster, whose previous experience of first team football came on loan spell with National League side Wealdstone in the 2020-21 campaign, impressed in everything he was asked to do.

Decisive when coming off his line to collect crosses, Isted also handled the one shot that came his way solidly, while his kicking played a part in Town scoring the only goal of the game too.

With Shea still being monitored, when asked if he could be given a chance against the Tangerines this weekend, Jones said: “We have such a special group here, if we need to go with Harry then we are purely comfortable with that because he is so engrained in the group.

“The last three games of the season we’re in a wonderful position, we would like to have a full strength squad but we haven’t, but we’re finding ways to win games and that’s what we have to keep doing.”

Despite Isted’s two outings this term, and his previous two appearances in the Checkatrade Trophy back in 2018, he doesn’t yet qualify as a senior keeper for the Hatters, having not yet played five first team games.

In fact, he still remains without an official appearance when you take to the rules into account, with Trophy matches not counting, nor does coming off the bench, as he had to be included from the start for the match to be registered by the EFL.

It all means the Hatters could still look to the emergency loan market even if he does play this weekend, as they have already done this term when bringing in West Bromwich Albion stopper Alex Palmer, who is now number two at the Hawthorns.

That hasn’t been the case just yet though, with Jones not surprised by the impressive nature of Isted’s displays when called upon, as he continued: “No, I don’t think anyone has acquitted themselves better than we think they can, because if we didn’t think they could do that, they wouldn’t be in the team.

"We’ve kept 18 clean sheets this year, we’ve got a fantastic defensive record, our goal difference is plus 14, plus 15, so we’ve showed that we’re a decent side.

"We score goals, we keep clean sheets, we work hard, we know that everyone’s played their part in that and Harry’s been excellent.

"He had far more to do in the Chelsea game than he had to do in the Cardiff game, so if we need Harry to play games for us, we’re very, very confident he can do it, because otherwise he wouldn’t be here.

"We’ve never had a problem putting him in, yes you’ve got to cover yourself in certain scenarios, but Harry’s excellent day in day out and he’s got the real respect of the lads which is the main thing.

"So if we have to put Harry in, 100 per cent confident and that’s not bravado, that’s true, because if we really need to take a loan then we’d be desperately scrambling to take a loan, that isn’t the thing.”

When asked how comfortable Isted has looked in his surroundings, Jones felt that was the same for the other members of the squad who have been used recently, adding: “When you look at people like Peter Kioso, Dan Potts, who didn’t play for periods of time, they come in and do it and they just look very comfortable.

“Dan Potts has only conceded a goal or something since he came back in and Peter’s involved in big wins, and that’s the group we have.

"They’re all ready, they all want to play, so we’re confident.

"We always say, there’s no passengers, so there’s no point in just having fillers in our squad because we know that they’re going to be needed.”