Jones believes Naismith addition proves recruitment at Luton is spot on after admitting eyebrows were raised when he joined 12 months ago

Defender was proved a stellar addition at Kenilworth Road

By Mike Simmonds
Sunday, 16th January 2022, 8:21 am
Updated Sunday, 16th January 2022, 8:22 am
Kal Naismith celebrates his wonderful late winner against Bournemouth
Kal Naismith celebrates his wonderful late winner against Bournemouth

Luton boss Nathan Jones believes defender Kal Naismith has proved Town’s recruitment team were spot on with their decision to sign him after marking his year long anniversary at the club with the magnificent stoppage time winner against leaders Bournemouth yesterday.

The 29-year-old had put pen to paper on a move to Bedfordshire 12 months to the day having left Wigan Athletic earlier in the summer as he wanted to get back into the Championship once more.

It came by way of a move to the Hatters, although it's fair to say the reaction was a muted one amongst Town fans when the deal was announced, the former Scottish U21 international not quite in the mould of what could be deemed a typical Jones signing, having come through at Rangers, before playing for Accrington Stanley and Portsmouth until joining the Latics in 2018.

Kal Naismith pictured after signing for the Hatters

The boss admitted it had been the same within the corridors of Kenilworth Road as well, but Naismith has shown just why the Luton chief was so keen on bringing him in.

It wasn't just yesterday's strike either, albeit it writing his name in Luton folklore with one of the great moments ever witnessed at the old ground, as after a slightly slow start when he played in a variety of roles, has settled into a centre back berth, and hasn't done much wrong during his now 46 appearances, in fact plenty right, a slaloming run against Fulham recently almost leading to what would have been the goal of the season.

Team-mate Jordan Clark had been labelled the the best free transfer in history by Jones, but some supporters would beg to differ that award should go to the defender who has become a huge favourite on the terraces, quickly labelled 'Kaldini' for good measure too.

Jones said: "If they have a little fight for that accolade then good, but it shows that our recruitment has been good here, very good.

"I think eyebrows were raised when we brought Kal Naismith in, I know they were, and even inside the club, because he’s not what we go for.

"We go for young, hungry ones who we believe are on their way up, but I’ve watched Kal and he’s hungry.

"He’s not quite as young, but he’s not old by any stretch, 29, still hungry, had a real, real good career, but we brought him in, he’s very versatile and he’s turning into now a good defensive midfield player, so wonderful.

"When you look at them (Bournemouth), no disrespect, but they’ve got Ben Pearson who they've paid a lot of money for on the bench, and they've got (Jefferson) Lerma, Lewis Cook, the midfield they've got, paid fortunes for.

"So for us to be competing with them shows we’re doing something right."

Reflecting on his first year in a Luton shirt, Naismith felt it had been the best period of his playing career so far, saying: "Honestly, I’ve not had a bad minute at the club, or a bad experience with a player, member of staff or anyone from the moment I joined the club.

“For my medical, I met the physios, the manager, I went to do my scans at a hospital and Bondy (Dan Bond, first team analyst), who sadly has just left the club, what a guy, an absolute legend.

"He picked me up and drove me down to Bournemouth away.

“I had three hours in the car with Bondy, he’s just such a good person, chatting away, and I just felt so comfortable on the first day.

“I said to my missus and I said to my mates, ‘this feels good’.

"It’s been the best 12 months of my career.”

Strangely, Naismith's first game was also a victory over Bournemouth, a 1-0 success at the Vitality Stadium sealed by Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's excellent strike.

This time it was he who was the hero though, adding: "It’s crazy how things work, Kee got the goal that day and I miss him so much.

"I need to go see him soon, he’s my mate, I love him to bits and we know how good he was for the club, just brilliant.”