Jones: Display of summer signing Burke at Blackpool highlights Luton's strength at centre half

Former West Ham centre half helps Hatters to ninth clean sheet

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 10th December 2021, 1:20 pm
Updated Friday, 10th December 2021, 1:22 pm
Town defender Reece Burke
Town defender Reece Burke

Town boss Nathan Jones has hailed the strength of his club’s centre halves this term after bringing Reece Burke back into the side for the 3-0 victory at Blackpool on Saturday.

The summer signing from Hull City was hit by injury at the start of the term, delaying his first start, then coming in for five successive starts during late August and September.

After Welsh international Tom Lockyer came back in, Burke returned for the home games against Middlesbrough and Stoke, but was then out of the side once more for the next three games.

However, when Lockyer missed out at Bloomfield Road, the ex-West Ham player produced a fine showing at the back, solid in the air and composed when bringing the ball out of defence, as Town kept a ninth clean sheet of the season and ended a four match winless run too.

Jones said: "We've got four real good centre halves, that’s what we wanted.

"We wanted to have good cover as we know centre halves, if they do things right, they will pick up knocks, will pick up certain things, will have a dip.

"We feel blessed, especially with the budget we have, that were able to get such quality and four of them, and not forgetting Gabe Osho and Glen (Rea) can play there as well.

"I’ve been really impressed with Gabe, he’s been really aggressive, so we’re in a good place centre half wise.

"Yes, I’m really pleased with Reece, he has done well to take his chance, he was a bit unlucky to come out, but I just had a feeling for Lockyer.

"Lockyer came out so I just had a feeling for Reece Burke against Sheffield United at home and we pick players for things that we need.

"Lockyer picked up little knock so it was an enforced change but one that we’re very comfortable in doing as we've got good competition in those positions.”

At Bloomfield Road, Jones made the decision to swap Sonny Bradley's and Kal Naismith’s positions, moving the captain out to the left of the three man back-line with the Scot taking over in the centre.

On why he did so, Jones added: "They’re both good centre halves, one is probably slightly better at one thing than the other and one is probably better at something else than the other, so it’s whatever we need for that game, and we can change in game at times as well.

"It’s good to have that versatility, Kal is very versatile and to have someone who is a left-sided centre half but also a right winger means he must have certain attributes, so we try to use those.”