Luton chief feels 'sorry' for over-used Osho as defender picks up injury in Boro defeat

Town manager unsure whether Naismith and Campbell will be fit for Coventry

By Mike Simmonds
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 7:30 am
Gabe Osho is ruled out for tonight's trip to Coventry
Gabe Osho is ruled out for tonight's trip to Coventry

Hatters boss Nathan Jones was gutted to see Gabe Osho have to go off before half time during the 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough on Saturday, which has ruled him out of tonight’s trip to Coventry City.

The 23-year-old has played 26 times this season, his breakthrough campaign in the second tier, and started 10 of the last 11 matches, including both FA Cup ties.

However, he had to come off at the Riverside five minutes before half time after tangling with Matt Crooks who landed awkwardly on him after Osho had conceded a corner.

That was the first of three enforced substitutions for Jones, who also had to take off Kal Naismith and Allan Campbell during the second half.

When asked if the trio would be in the reckoning for the clash at the Coventry Building Society Arena, Jones who made six changes at the Riverside from the 3-2 defeat against Chelsea in the FA Cup, but opted to keep Osho in the holding midfield role said: “Gabe won’t be and the other two we’ll have to see.

“Gabe, I’m so sorry for the kid because of his athleticism, he had to put a really big shift on Wednesday and then go again,

“If we’d have done that with all 11 then that’s what happens, so that’s why we made the changes as it’s a big tough ask to go in the Championship and against the World Club champions, so to be aggressive, so we either change the way we play or change the personnel."

Town's midfield injuries have hampered them recently, with Luke Berry and Jordan Clark only just back from spells on the sidelines, plus Robert Snodgrass not fully fit following his move to Kenilworth Road recently, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu out due to fatigue.

With Osho now missing and a doubt over Campbell for tonight's trip to the Sky Blues, Jones felt this proved why he had to make the changes he did for the Chelsea cup tie and trip to Middlesbrough, continuing: “This is what we say, when we make changes, we make changes for this.

"People can’t keep doing it, we’ve had problems in central midfield in terms of the injuries we’ve had, so people have had to do big shifts.

"Gabe wouldn’t have played in midweek or wouldn’t have played if we had everyone available.

"Bezza’s not ready for 90 minutes, Clarky’s not ready for 90 minutes, Snodgrass is not ready for 90 minutes, we’ve got Pelly out, Henri’s just coming back, so it’s a big ask.

"It’s tough, the Covid break we came out of it really strong, but now we’ve got to play catch-up.

"It’s the Championship and others are doing that, it's tough and that's why you make the changes.

"I know sometimes you get criticised for making changes but you have to do it, as you can't go hell for leather for 90 minutes in the Championship week in week out and play the same 11, because people pick up injuries."

The main bright point from the Riverside was a late goal for Harry Cornick, his 10th of the season, the first time he has ever reached double figures during a campaign in his career.

Jones added: “He’s scored two in two and he’s looked very sharp.

"He put a big shift in the other day so we couldn’t start him today.

"We changed both strikers to have that freshness, but I’m not sure as a team we were like we normally are and that’s the frustrating thing.

"We could have defended it better, we know the strengths they have, we’ve not defended the build-up well enough, defend the build up better then we don't concede that (Boro's opening goal).

"That’s the frustrating thing, we weren’t inept first half, but we were nowhere near the levels that we normally attain to."