Luton boss confirms Guttridge has an important role to play

Luke Guttridge
Luke Guttridge

Hatters boss John Still insists that midfielder Luke Guttridge still has an important part to play this season.

The 33-year-old has been a key part of Hatters’ squad since arriving on a free from Northampton in the summer of 2013, scoring 17 goals in 64 games.

“He’s trained terrifically well, so he’s done his chances no harm at all, not that he had.”

John Still

However, despite playing and impressing during his 90 minutes in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over Leyton Orient on Tuesday night, Guttridge has yet to feature in a league game this term.

Still said: “At the start of the season, Luke played some pre-season games, we’re fully aware of the problem he has with his toe, so I haven’t pushed him and rushed him.

“I have spoken to him and told him he will be an important part here, and what we mustn’t run away with is the season’s just started and we’re bedding people in and getting people settled.

“There was never an issue of Luke Guttridge. We all know he’s a good player. Might he have to be played sparingly? Maybe, I don’t know. He played very well the other day, he’s trained terrifically well, so he’s done his chances no harm at all, not that he had.”

When asked if Guttridge had enquired over his lack of playing time so far, Still added: “He’s had a knock on the door but if eight, nine or 10 people didn’t start the first two games, I’d have nine or 10 knocks on the door, I understand that, that’s football.

“I always say the same thing, if I don’t want you, I will tell you. It’s no different to the conversation I had with Andre Gray two years ago, but he got it, worked hard and now he’s playing in the Championship, trying to get into the Premier League.

“Players are disappointed when they don’t play, of course they are. You can tell people the reason why, and they’ll sit down and understand your point of view, not necessarily agree with it, but will understand it.

“But this job about making decisions and sometimes they’re big decisions and important decisions. You make the decisions about people with the utmost respect for what they’ve done for this football club, for the person they are because you like them as people.

“It’s not always important to like them as people, they’ve got to be footballers first, but there are players you genuinely like and want to do well. But that can be no reason to play them, you’ve just got to pick what you think if right.

“I don’t have a responsibility to get 70 per cent of this squad fit, ready, organised and focused, I have a responsibility to 100 per cent of the players to do that and always have a responsibility to pick what I think is the best team to represent the football club.

“Luke would feel disappointed maybe not to have started, I understand that but there are others that are disappointed.

“If I make a change on Saturday, they’ll be disappointed, well that’s the game. You have to pick without fear or favour.”

Meanwhile, defender Magnus Okuonghae didn’t think that Guttridge’s recent omissions had dented his attitude behind the scenes, as the experienced midfielder remains one of the characters in the squad.

He added: “Not really. With the strength in our squad, boys know they’re going to have work hard day in day out to play.

“There’s some people who will be disappointed, that goes without saying, especially when you’ve played as many games as Gutts has.

“I’m not surprised with the way Gutts played and the way he pulled the strings. I train with Gutts every day.

“I don’t know how old Gutts is, but I don’t think you stay in the game if you haven’t got the hunger and desire and belief in your own ability and the belief that you could break into the team whatever team it is you play for.”