Lockyer would love to be back in the trenches and help injury-hit Luton in their relegation fight

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Town centre half has no idea if he can ever make a return to playing yet

​​Town defender Tom Lockyer would love nothing more than to return to the trenches for the Hatters and help out in the club’s battle to stay in the Premier League this season.

The 29-year-old has been forced to sit out for the last four months after suffering an on-field cardiac arrest against AFC Bournemouth on December 16, when paramedics were on the scene quickly to save his life at the Vitality Stadium. Although a space was left open in Luton’s 25-man squad in the hope of a potential return, when it became clear Lockyer wouldn’t come back this term, it went to wingback Fred Onyedinma instead, who had been on loan with Championship side Rotherham at the beginning of the campaign.

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With Town having had all seven of their centre halves out at some stage due to a variety of injuries in recent weeks, and going on a 10-game winless run at one point, it has heightened Lockyer’s urges to be back out there again. Speaking to Sky Sports News recently, he said: “Being in the changing room every day, that’s what you really miss, being around the lads, that camaraderie, that togetherness that you get.

Town captain Tom Lockyer was at the Emirates Stadium to watch Luton lose to Arsenal recently - pic: Liam SmithTown captain Tom Lockyer was at the Emirates Stadium to watch Luton lose to Arsenal recently - pic: Liam Smith
Town captain Tom Lockyer was at the Emirates Stadium to watch Luton lose to Arsenal recently - pic: Liam Smith

"Training, yes that’s okay, but match-days, that’s where it’s at isn’t it. It has been hard, it was easier when the boys were winning, I was just happy for them, but I see them and I think I could have helped there, maybe my voice could have helped out. That’s hard and the injuries we’ve got, I just want to come back and say ‘I’ll help you out lads, I'll come back into the trenches with you,’ but you can’t. The lads are doing unbelievable at the minute, it’s crazy that it’s (injuries) come at the minute, I just wish I could go back and help, but you can’t rush these things.

"I don’t like going in all the time with the Tom Lockyer show or the media circus that could surround that. It makes me miss it even more when I’m in too, so it’s hard being in at the same time. It’s good, but when all the lads are going out to training you wish you could join them, but they’ve been amazing for me, I can’t speak highly enough of everyone at the club.”

On how his own future is looking at the moment, Lockyer continued: “I've been out in Amsterdam having a few more tests, but it's still too early to say at the minute whether I'll be allowed back on the football pitch. You can't really rush these things. You get this one wrong and then it's not very good. So I’m still taking my time, but things are starting to progress a little bit faster which is nice as I feel like I'm ready to start trying to find out a little bit more about whether I can return or not.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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One person who Lockyer would love to get back to help out is manager Rob Edwards, who has been a huge support to him ever since the incident on the south coast happened. The popular defender said: “Rob has said I can come in when I want, or if I need time away then that’s brilliant, so it’s as and when.

"You’re more than a footballer to him, he sees you as one big family and I know that a lot of players will say they’ve had that with other clubs, but it really is like a family environment. He's been at the house checking in on me, every day saying ‘how are you?’ It’s the old cliche, but you just want to run through brick walls for him. You add that with we've signed young, hungry players, who’ve got a point to prove and they want to do it for themselves anyway, you add that together with a manager who believes in you and tries to get the best out of you every single day, then it’s a recipe for success."

If the Welsh centre half can make his return to playing in the future, then with Luton doing their utmost to stay in the top flight this season, he and his Hatters team-mates might not know what division they are competing in until after the campaign has finished due to the appeals process regarding points deductions for Everton and Nottingham Forest.

As it stands, that might not be concluded until after Town’s final top flight match against Fulham on May 19, as Lockyer added: “This is the thing, the whole thing’s just a mess as it could be decided after the season has finished. Everton had 10 and now it’s down to six, Nottingham Forest have appealed, who even knows what’s going to happen? It’s a mess isn’t it. At the end of the day, if they get points off and that helps us, I’ll be the first one to say I’m delighted, but whatever happens, you’ve just got to deal with it haven’t you.”

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