Hatters unchanged for second leg as Edwards wants Town to play as if their 'lives depend on it'

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Championship play-off second leg: Luton Town v Sunderland

Luton Town have gone with an unchanged side as boss Rob Edwards called his players to play as if their lives ‘depend on it’ when they take on Sunderland in the play-off semi-final second leg this evening.

Striker Joe Taylor has replaced Luke Freeman on the bench, as the Black Cats also go with the same XI, Patrick Robert and Alex Pritchard recovering from injury, defender Aji Alese among the subs.

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Edwards said: “We’ve got to be calm, we need 11 people on the pitch, but we need fire.

Hatters are back at home this eveningHatters are back at home this evening
Hatters are back at home this evening

"We need to play with fire and then be ice cold at the right moments when we win the ball back, so we can keep it a bit better.

“If it does get heated at all, we’ve got to make sure we’re calm at the right moments, but we need to make sure we play with real fire, like our lives depend on it.

“We don’t want this to be the end, but it could be our last game of the season and we don’t want that to be the case.”

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On winning the battles that they lost during the first leg at the Stadium of Light, Edwards continued: “We want every individual to come out on top in their own battles against their direct opponent, but it’s difficult.

"Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts are as good as any players in the league, but we’re pretty confident that we have some good players as well.

"It will be down to us to make sure we win those individual duels.

“The togetherness is top, we’ve got an unbelievable spirit in the group.

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"You can see that, just because we’ve lost one game of football, we haven’t lost since February to a penalty and it was against the league leaders who were the best team by miles when we played really well that day.”

When asked if Town will try to take advantage of the visitors’ makeshift back-line to a better extent this evening, Edwards added: “It’s something that we’ve spoken about.

"We’ve spoken about it after the game, if you just go direct, direct, direct, especially on a big pitch, then you’re going to open up spaces for their good players because you’re not going to win everything.

"They’re going to win some second balls and you open up the pitch too much.

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“I thought we did it really well in the first half, second half we were just not as good with the ball.

"If it did go into the frontmen, it didn’t stick as much.

"We know a few areas that we can improve in, but just because their defenders aren’t as big, it doesn’t mean they aren’t physical.

“They give as good as they get, that’s why they are where they are.

"They are good players but they’re physical and I think everyone’s playing on that fact that because we have a few tall players, it should be easy to lump it up and win every header, it’s not the case.

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"They are physical in their own way, they’re strong, you can use any number of world class players.

"Everyone knows that you don’t have to be big to be physical, quick, dynamic and strong.

"They’ve got all them attributes as well as being technically very good.”

Hatters: Ethan Horvath, Cody Drameh, Gabe Osho, Tom Lockyer (C), Amari'i Bell, Alfie Doughty, Marvelous Nakamba, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jordan Clark, Elijah Adebayo, Carlton Morris.

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Subs: James Shea, Dan Potts, Allan Campbell, Luke Berry, Reece Burke, Fred Onyedinma, Joe Taylor.

Black Cats: Nathan Patterson, Pierre Ekwah, Joe Galhardt, Luke O'Nien, Patrick Roberts, Trai Hume, Lynden Gooch (C), Alex Pritchard, Daniel Neil, Jack Clarke, Amad Diallo.

Subs: Alex Bass, Niall Huggins, Abdoullah Ba, Isaac Lihadji, Joe Anderson, Edouard Michut, Aji Alese.