Justin keen to make left back slot his own after stellar show

Surfs up: James Justin celebrates his goal against Plymouth on Saturday
Surfs up: James Justin celebrates his goal against Plymouth on Saturday

Luton defender James Justin is targeting a prolonged run in the side at left back after making the switch from the right recently.

Justin had been in the middle of another frustrating spell on the bench, until Dan Potts injured his groin on the stroke of half time against Walsall last month.

He’s not match fit at the moment, so I got to keep my place and hopefully I repaid the manager back by that.

James Justin

That saw Justin come in, and he has started the last five games, his best run since December last season, producing some stand out performances too, Town conceding just twice in that time as well.

With Potts now fit, and Jack Stacey a shoe-in at right back, manager Nathan Jones has a real dilemma over who plays on the left, but Justin got the nod at home to Plymouth on Saturday and repaid his boss with another stellar display, setting up two and scoring once.

He said: “It’s really enjoyable and since Pottsy went down, I feel like I’ve taken my chance.

“Obviously it was unfortunate he went down, but I’m playing well at the moment, and we’re keeping clean sheets.

“I can do it both ways, I’m stronger on the right, so it just gives me another option.

“When I’m playing right back, I don’t usually come on to my left too much, so it gives the defender another thing to think about.

“Me and Pottsy, all the full backs have a great rivalry and he’s just come back from injury. He’s not match fit at the moment, so I got to keep my place and hopefully I repaid the manager back by that.

“Every game we go into we say, we want a clean sheet, so it’s just all coming together.

“We’re defending well, everyone in front of us, it’s not just the back four, everyone from set-pieces, everyone’s doing well.”

Although he was spot on defensively at the weekend, it was going forward where Justin caught the eye most with his raids down the left flank.

On picking out the unmarked James Collins for his first goal, he said: “Elliot’s (Lee) found me and we’ve been working on stuff in training about striker’s movement and it paid off.”

Justin then took matters into his own hands for Luton’s third goal, netting from close range after a fantastic 16 pass move by the Hatters.

He continued: “Harry Cornick’s done well, cut it back to me, it’s stuck under my feet a bit and I just toepoked it in.

“It was a bit of a lucky finish, but they all count. I was just focusing, ‘get it on target, get it on target,’ thankfully it went in.”

The main talking point came with the celebration that followed, with Justin, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Harry Cornick all involved.

The defender continued: “It was a little swim to a surf.

“Harry Cornick mentioned it a couple of days ago, so thought that we’d do it.

“I heard someone behind me saying ‘let’s do it, let’s do it,’ so we did it.”

There was even more to come from Justin as well, the 20-year-old blocking a clearance in the visitors penalty area, before being fouled as he set up Collins, referee Darren England awarding a penalty.

He said: “One of their players tried to play it out, it got cut out and then I was just a little bit faster to react to it.

“He wiped me out and then I didn’t really see what happened after that.

“The ref brought it back for a penalty, Collo converted it well, so congrats to him for his hat-trick.

“I think it was as well as a ref has reffed a match really this season, with no disrespect to the other refs, but I thought he was top quality.”

Justin now appears to be hitting top form once more for the Hatters and with January around the corner, it could lead to another window of speculation. However, he added: “I just want to play games wherever I am. I’m playing lots of games here and playing well, so hopefully I can keep my place.”