Jones assures Lockyer and co they are still 'key' members of Luton's squad

Town defender Tom LockyerTown defender Tom Lockyer
Town defender Tom Lockyer
Defender unsure of game time following cup exit

Hatters boss Nathan Jones has told the likes of Tom Lockyer and the rest of the team who took part in the Carabao Cup defeat to Newport County on Tuesday night that they will still be ‘key’ members of his Championship squad this season as long as their attitude in training remains spot on.

The Welsh international spoke in the week about his frustration at the first round loss to the Exiles potentially hindering his chances of breaking back into the side over the coming weeks, with reduced opportunities to stake his claim.

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Lockyer has played 57 times since signing for the Hatters from Charlton Athletic in September 2020, but only began four of the club’s final 12 matches last season, on the bench for both play-off matches too.

With the Hatters facing six games in 19 days, travelling to Bristol City, Swansea City and Cardiff City in that time too, then Jones will have to utilise his whole squad to give Town the best chance of getting results, which means Lockyer is definitely in contention for a place in the back three.

He said: “As long as their character and their attitude is good then it’s brilliant.

“I thought Tom was excellent the other night in terms of how he played.

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“It’s not so much forcing his way in, Tom will play a number of games here.

“We have five centre-halves for three positions.

"Tom will play, he has played one in the first three, at the minute he’s at just over 33 per cent and he obviously wants that to go up but he will play a number of games because he’s important to us and he is a key member of the squad.

“He will just have to understand the process.

"Only 11 can play and I’ve been at other clubs where you have 11 play but then the others don’t actually want to perform, want to work hard, or really see it as a way of keeping their standards.

“We have a group here that do that when they are called upon, as we saw last year, the proof was in the pudding.

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"Everyone got to play, and some that hadn’t play earlier in the season came in, someone like Dan Potts was excellent in that spell where we really kicked on, got a number of wins and got into the play-offs.

"Everyone is a key player and everyone who we retain and don’t loan out will become a key member because we don’t have passengers here.”

Lockyer will aim to feature once more this afternoon against a Preston side who, like Luton, have drawn two out of two matches so far this term.

The Hatters ran out 4-0 winners in the same fixture last term, as Jones added: “They’re an established Championship side.

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"They’re a side that a lot of Championship sides try to emulate, good players, know their positions, know what they’re doing at the level, very difficult to play against.

"Ryan Lowe’s an excellent manager, so it’s going to be a real, real tough game.

"As you’ve seen, we've had some real good encounters against them, real tough encounters and that will be the same.”