January signing could be involved at Arsenal as Luton boss may have to speed up academy's progress

Attacker might be on the bench against the Gunners
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Luton boss Rob Edwards could give January transfer window signing Taylan Harris his first taste of Premier League involvement during tomorrow’s trip to title-chasing Arsenal, as he admitted the speed of the academy’s development could well be sped up to cope with the club’s unprecedented injury crisis.

The 18-year-old moved to Kenilworth Road from League One side Reading a few months ago and he has been involved more frequently with the U21s recently, playing in the 3-3 draw with QPR and 2-0 loss to West Ham United. With Town having 10 first team players missing from their 2-1 defeat at Spurs on Saturday, they could be without another three at the Emirates Stadium, Reece Burke, Alfie Doughty and Tahith Chong all doubts to face the Gunners after going off at the weekend.

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The bench in north London at the weekend already contained three teenagers in Zack Nelson, Joe Johnson and Axel Piesold, but with Edwards unsure if any of Burke, Doughty and Chong will be fit, there is a chance that Harris might be involved. Asked about the former Royal and any more of the academy being raided to fill out Town’s squad against Mikel Arteta’s team, Edwards said: “Ty is another one who’s been training with us this week as well.

Hatters boss Rob Edwards watches on at Spurs on Saturday - pic: Liam SmithHatters boss Rob Edwards watches on at Spurs on Saturday - pic: Liam Smith
Hatters boss Rob Edwards watches on at Spurs on Saturday - pic: Liam Smith

"We’re probably going to have four teenagers on the bench tomorrow at least, maybe more, along with our two goalkeepers, so there’s always opportunities for people and it’s down to them to take them. Some of those younger ones, they may get a chance in the next few games. There might be one or two others, as if we’re missing Burkey or Chongy or Alfie, or all three of them, then there could be any number of people.

“We've got high hopes for a few. For them to be ready for Premier League football right now you'd probably say no, but there's some there that we think in years to come. That might get sped up dramatically over these next couple of weeks. I don't see any of them, I don't mean Joe or Zack because they’ve been in and around it a bit more and had some game time as well, but I don’t see any of them impacting from the start at the moment.”

Edwards would rather name some of the Hatters’ untested youngsters among the substitutes even if they aren’t quite ready for the bright lights of the top flight, rather than leave any spaces spare, adding: "There might be a few on the bench and then it’s whether they’re ready to come into it. What I don’t like doing is having eight people on the bench when I could put a young player on there for experience and to give them that I think it benefits the young players and the academy as well as I don’t really want to go eight players or seven players on the bench and send out a signal to people. People will understand that we’re down to the bare bones at the moment as well.

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"A few of the lads are training with us at the moment, but to challenge in the Premier League is really difficult with what we’ve got, the issues that we’ve got, I've never known anything like it. There’s opportunities for other people. We’ve had a debut for young Zack Nelson. Potentially, if we’ve got more people out then that’s what we’ll have to do.”