Hatters chief insists 'proud' Luton skipper Lockyer will always have a place at Kenilworth Road

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Centre half on the same recovery programme as Christian Eriksen and Daley Blind

​Hatters boss Rob Edwards insists club captain Tom Lockyer will always have a place at Kenilworth Road even if he is ultimately forced to retire from playing.

The 29-year-old will have a well deserved break over the summer, as he continues his recovery from the on-field cardiac arrest he suffered at AFC Bournemouth back in December. Lockyer has been able to step things up in recent weeks, with a number of punditry roles for Sky Sports and the BBC, also returning to Kenilworth Road to help the squad prepare for their final few matches of the Premier League season.

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Whether he will ever get to add to his 117 appearances for Town remains to be seen, but asked just what the future holds for him now, Edwards said: “He’s still in that process, the rehab. He’s got a little bit of family time, he’s going to get a holiday and then he’s going back. There’s five or six boxes and these can take a long period of time. He’s got to be able to tick all those things to be able to return and play.

"I think he’s done the first couple at the moment, he’s progressing nicely with his rehab. I don’t really want to say either way, but he’s always going to have a place here at Luton Town, there’s no doubt about that. As for the playing bit, it’s not for me to say at the moment.”

Lockyer was able to be part of the final day post match lap of appreciation at Kenilworth Road after the 4-2 defeat to Fulham on Sunday, as the Luton players went round the pitch after the final whistle to thank their terrific fans for the support they have shown throughout the campaign. He proudly had his recently born daughter in his arms too, and writing on Instagram afterwards, the skipper said: “The one constant in this rollercoaster of a season was the unwavering support week in week out.

"It’s easy during the good times but you are there even at the toughest moments and that’s what makes us unique. Yes we came up short and it hurts but I’m proud to wear orange and proud to be Luton. Despite the season ending how it did I feel a real sense of gratitude towards life today. To be able to walk my daughter around the pitch and the reception my family and I received, I honestly can’t tell you how much it means to me. See you next season. Locks. Ps good riddance VA!! Pps LEARN CPR ‼️”

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Lockyer is now on the same recovery programme as Christian Eriksen and Daley Blind, who have both returned to football after having implantable cardioverter-defibrillators fitted, such as the defender has done. Speaking to the Sky Bet’s Stick to Football podcast about his chances of ever being able to put his boots on again, he continued: “I’m not playing any football currently.

Town defender Tom Lockyer faces the camera on Sunday - pic: Liam SmithTown defender Tom Lockyer faces the camera on Sunday - pic: Liam Smith
Town defender Tom Lockyer faces the camera on Sunday - pic: Liam Smith

"The process of recovery is a long one, and something that is more complex than doing a hamstring injury. The specialists are taking their time with it, especially with this happening twice. Additionally, before I am allowed back on the pitch again, everyone is going to want to make sure that I am completely safe and that this won’t happen again.

"If I am to return to the pitch, I’m assuming that they’ve got absolutely no doubt about me, and if there was, then I’m sure I wouldn’t be trying to return to football anyways. I spoke to Christian who put me in touch with his cardiologist who has done a lot of work with other players, including Daley Blind, and this guy has a good track record of getting people back.

“He’s happy to have me on his programme after the initial tests, which is a five-stage process to get you back onto the pitch. The first two stages are life rehabilitation, so can you chase your children round the garden, can you run for the bus etc, so it’s important, more so than ever, that I can do those things and get the first two stages done, then I can see where I’m at.

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“At any stage of the programme, he can pull me from it if a test result comes out badly, so I’m permanently being monitored, especially when I’m doing exercise. I feel safer now than I’ve ever done so before as I’ve got so many eyes watching me and these devices I’ve got can kick in whenever it’s needed.”

One thing that definitely isn’t on the horizon for Lockyer is management though, as he added: “When I’m at the ground, watching matches, I feel stress more than when I’m playing and can affect the game. I see the stress that managers go through and it’s not nice, so going into management is not something I’m looking to do.”

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