Jones happy to have Welsh international Lockyer back for Luton once more

Centre half plays second 45 minutes against Rochdale

By Mike Simmonds
Monday, 12th July 2021, 2:54 pm
Town defender Tom Lockyer
Town defender Tom Lockyer

Town boss Nathan Jones was happy to have defender Tom Lockyer involved for the first time for almost five months when featuring in the second half of Luton’s pre-season friendly win over Rochdale on Saturday.

The 26-year-old hadn’t played for the Hatters since February 16, when he suffered an ankle injury after just 30 minutes of the 2-0 home defeat to Cardiff City.

Although he was back on the subs bench for the trip to Derby County a month later, Lockyer was then ruled out of the rest of the campaign due to ligament damage.

He made it back to fitness to be named in the Wales squad for the Euros but didn't make it on the pitch for his county, returning to join up with his Hatters team-mates at Queen Ethelburga’s College in Yorkshire for their training camp.

After getting the second 45 minutes of the 4-0 win over Rochdale, Jones, speaking to the club's official website about the former Charlton defender: "Everyone’s gathering speed and it’s great to see Tom back.

“We gave him a little bit of time off, Joe (Morrell) has had another week and Slugs (Simon Sluga) had another week after that, because of their participation.

“Tom wanted to get back in, he has missed a bit of football for us last year which we really regret because he was in such form before he got injured and we were really excited about him and we’re glad to have him back.

“He’s a great lad, a big part of the environment as well which we really like.

"He was on my quiz team, he’s not the brightest but we’ll suffer that if he puts in performances like we get from him.”

Although Town ran out comfortable 4-0 winners on the day with goals from Elijah Adebayo (penalty), Reece Burke, Harry Cornick and Cameron Jerome, the Luton chief felt it could have been a few more, continuing: “We set an environment and that can’t change.

"You can’t come off the gas in pre-season and pick and choose your games, you are either at it, or you are not.

"We have been at it in pre-season in terms of expecting a level of athleticism. and quality from them, competitiveness, they do it training, so it’s very difficult to come to a pre-season game and not have that competitive edge, and it's great to see.

"Not to be disrespectful but we should have had a couple more (goals) because of the positions we got in.

"We should be more clinical, but nothing is won in July. apart from the Euros maybe, but in terms of us, nothing is won in July.

"We are gathering speed. we played Hitchin and scored goals and then Rochdale and scored goals, a couple more tests next week before we step it up a level.”

Jones was also pleased to have Lockyer back for the week in Yorkshire, as he believes it is vital for the squad's preparation this term, adding: "We thank the people here at the college because they have been wonderful.

"The facilities are world-class, absolutely world-class and we have done some really good work.

"We chose this place specifically, we looked at about four or five and this is the best one.

“For me this is the most important week of pre-season in terms of getting everyone together, nailing things down and we have done really, really good work."