Jones: James Shea has to be at Luton Town

Town keeper James Shea rallies his side against Leicester recently
Town keeper James Shea rallies his side against Leicester recently

James Shea simply ‘has to be at Luton Town’ according to manager Graeme Jones, after the keeper signed a new long term contract last week.

The former Arsenal and AFC Wimbledon stopper joined on a free transfer in the summer of 2017, playing eight times as Town won promotion from League Two.

He then took the number one jersey from Marek Stech last season, making 41 appearances in League Two as the Hatters were crowned champions.

Shea has played three times this season, all in the Carabao Cup, completing 62 appearances in total for Town, as Jones said: “I’m not just saying it, but I’m really pleased, really pleased because since I’ve come in, number one he’s a really good goalkeeper.

“I’ve probably seen him at his worst against Burton Albion last season, when he was coming back from illness, as he missed the Accrington game.

"Then I’ve had the pleasure of working with him and you realise what a competent goalkeeper he is.

“That’s number one. Then his mentality is outstanding and then on top of that, the character, I love the character, absolutely love the character.

“So he has to be at Luton Town because he’s a guy who’s ready for anything, no matter what the situation is, playing, not playing, Championship, League One, League Two, he’s done it all.

“He’s the kind of character of why this club, the success it’s been built on, the likes of James Shea and other players at the club.

“You can see why its been successful because he’s been a real pleasure to work with and a really, really good guy.”

Although Shea has lost his place to club record signing Simon Sluga in the Championship games so far this term, his reaction to that has impressed Jones even more.

He continued: “I think James is at a stage of his career where he comes in, he’s himself every day.

“He works hard, he’s committed to the team and to the football club and he’s ready for whatever role you throw at him, playing or not, the personality doesn’t change.

“They are a rarity and I was delighted to secure James Shea’s long term future.

“For me that helps secure Luton Town’s long term future, knowing no matter what happens, we’ve got a competent goalkeeper, knowing we’ve got a top character, knowing somebody who has got great history with the club, has been through it at all levels and is the same guy.

“So I’ve got nothing but respect for him, and I’m delighted that we’ve tied him down.”

On the battle for Town’s number one jersey, which is expected to intensify after Simon Sluga’s error-strewn display at Derby County on Saturday, Jones said: “He does push him and has been close a few times after his performances in the Carabao Cup.

“But he supports Simon Sluga as well, so long may that competition continue.”