Luton boss looking to expand Dearden's role at Kenilworth Road after bringing in goalkeeper coach Pilkington

Town chief discusses his latest backroom staff appointment

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 10:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 10:37 am
Town's head of goalkeeping Kevin Dearden - pic: Gareth Owen

Town manager Nathan Jones is intending to expand head of goalkeeping Kevin Dearden’s role with the Hatters after adding Kevin Pilkington to the backroom staff recently.

Dearden, 51, who had a lengthy spell at Brentford during his playing career, has been at Kenilworth Road since December 2014, appointed goalkeeper coach by former manager John Still.

He has become an important and popular member at the Brache, with Jones now looking to add to his day-to-day work in the near future.

Speaking about the decision to bring in Pilkington as goalkeeper coach to work with Dearden, he said: “For clear and pure transparency, I spoke to Kev a number of years ago about wanting to bring someone else in to the department and then Kev using certain things and us developing Kev to expand his role if you like, whereas someone else takes on the day-to-day physical side of things.

“Me and Kev have been working in close collaboration before I left and then since I’ve come back.

“We just wanted to find the right person really to step in to that as Kev’s done a fantastic job with the goalkeepers we’ve had.

“It’s just something we’ve been looking at doing for a number of years as we’ve gone up the pyramid and bringing someone in that’s probably a little bit more specialist with certain things we wanted and then giving Kev a different type of scope within his role which we really want to evolve into.

“So we set the ball in motion, I wouldn’t say early, it is kind of early, but myself and Kev have been talking about this for years.

“It’s bringing someone in to eventually take over that role, while Kev is evolving into the new role that we want him.”

On what that might entail, Jones continued: “We want Kev to do a different role at the club.

“Kev’s very, very good in the environment, he’s excellent, he takes on a lot of mini roles, so what we want him to do is evolve into that role full time, and let Kev get to grips with that.

“At the minute both Kev’s are very hands on in terms of the goalkeeping department and we like that as at the minute we don’t feel that anything’s broke, so we don’t need to fix it.

“But when the opportunity came up for the right one, for us to bring in, then whatever time that was we would have done it.

“Now if Kevin Pilkington hadn’t become available, we would not have gone and brought someone in yet, so it was just a timing thing.”

Jones certainly did his research ahead of bringing the former Mansfield and Notts County keeper in as well, saying: “I think he’ll enjoy working in our environment, we take human beings seriously.

“We know Kev and the club knows Kev and the people at the club know Kev.

“Gary (Sweet, CEO) knows him very well, Paul Hart’s (first team coach) worked with him before.

“A lot of people I know, and we did character research on, have said ‘excellent guy’ and he’s done very well.

“I signed one of his keepers Adam Davies (for Stoke) and Adam spoke really well of him, Cameron McGeehan spoke really well of him.

“So he’s just another good person and then the fact he’s good at his job means we can evolve.”

After ending his two year stint with Championship rivals Barnsley recently, Pilkington was elated to head back to a club who he played 33 times for when Town were in the Conference.

He added: “Barnsley was a bit frustrating, I can’t go into too much of it, it was just a bit frustrating for me, after last season doing so well and then a lot of changes in the summer.

“I decided to call it a day there and then as soon as I did that, I got a call saying that Luton were interested, so it was a no-brainer.

“I didn’t know Nathan personally, but from playing against his teams over the years and seeing how he works on the touch-line and I’ve known a lot of players who have played there as well too.

"So when you speak to them about him and how intense he is, how passionate he is and what a good coach he is as well, I’m really excited as what I’ve seen so far with Nathan, with Chris (Cohen), with Paul being there as well, and the work they do on the training pitch, as well as the work they do on a match-day, it’s very, very good.”

Just being back in the fold with Luton was something that appealed massively to Pilkington as well following his stint as a player, adding: “It was a club I was there for briefly, just short of two years, but I loved every minute of it.

"I loved the environment, I loved Kenilworth Road and playing in that atmosphere was brilliant for me, and I’ve kept in touch with people who are still there.

"Gary Sweet I know really well, I know Paul Hart, I know Mick (Harford) as well, when we played, I spoke to Kev a lot as well, so it’s a good move for me.

"It’s one I’m really excited about, one that I’m really looking forward to and hope it goes really well.

“You look at what they’re doing with bringing in a lot of ex-players in to do a lot of the coaching, and it’s just a club that they treat people properly, which I really, really respect.

"I know the area really well, I was born in Hitchin, brought up around the area, I've still got family down there as well, so it’s a good fit.”

Although Town now have a raft of ex-players at the club, particularly in the academy ranks, with Paul Benson, Alan McCormack and Adrian Forbes involved, being a former Luton player isn't the be-all and end-all for Jones when it comes to improving his backroom staff.

He said: “I think it helps, it’s not calculated as we don’t go out and go 'who are the ex-players that we can employ?'

"If someone comes on our radar that we feel is good enough and can help us, we offer them and try to get them, but what we try to do first and foremost is bring good people in, people who are good at their job.

"If they then tick the box of having known the club then of course that helps, and providing that they were well liked then it’s an advantage, but it’s not a calculated thing really.

"A lot of people employ people that know the environment, know the culture of it, so that’s what we’ve done.

"But with Pilks, Pilks played a long time ago here, so that was a factor, but not a great one.

"More so that can he fit in with us now? Is his work good enough? Both of those were yes, the fact he played for us is an added bonus."

Since Pilkington arrived, he has impressed Town keeper James Shea as well, who added: "Kev has been class, he’s been really good so far.

"He gets the way we work which is massive, the training’s been great, he's just fitted in like he's been here for years."