Luton's injured players are making progress but only one is rated as a 'maybe' for Brentford clash

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Town chief still without 10 first teamers against Bees

Luton boss Rob Edwards admitted that although his injured players have made progress in their bid to help the Hatters fight for Premier League survival, he isn’t expecting many to be fit enough to take to the field against Brentford tomorrow.

Town went to Manchester City last weekend without 12 first team players, as Issa Kabore was ineligible against his parent club, with Teden Mengi, Chiedozie Ogbene, Elijah Adebayo, Sambi Lokonga, Gabe Osho, Mads Andersen, Dan Potts, Jacob Brown, Marvelous Nakamba and Amari’i Bell all sidelined due to a number of differing injuries.

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Centre half Tom Lockyer is also out of the squad due to his continuing recovery from a cardiac arrest at AFC Bournemouth back in December, making it a dozen first teamers in total unavailable for the Hatters. Although Kabore can now come back in, Edwards revealed that of the other absentees, only Teden Mengi was a possibility to face the Bees, as he said: “It’s still that way. We’ve had progress this week but whether that means that can actually be progress on the pitch now is another thing. I don’t anticipate too many changes, but we are making progress. We’re hopeful in the coming games that we can see some of those players coming back, but it will be difficult for tomorrow.”

Teden Mengi could possibly be back to face Brentford tomorrow - pic: Liam SmithTeden Mengi could possibly be back to face Brentford tomorrow - pic: Liam Smith
Teden Mengi could possibly be back to face Brentford tomorrow - pic: Liam Smith

The quartet of Lokonga, Adebayo, Ogbene and Osho appear to have a better chance of returning play some kind of part against Wolves and then Everton, but asked if Andersen, who hasn’t featured since Boxing Day and Potts, who is yet to get a single minute this season, could be available, Edwards, who knows he might have to take some risks soon with games beginning to run out, continued: “They’re in the list of maybes. They’re not out of contention completely, but they’re in the maybes.

"It might be a game or two max, it could be. If we’re taking it down to those last couple of games and getting them back then great. They are giving everything, people are getting closer, but then there’s people who have been out for a number of weeks so they aren’t up to the rhythm of it straight away as well. There’s still an element of risk, but it will get to a stage where it’s worth taking those risks as well, as we’re running out of games.”

Sadly that wasn’t the case for the trio of Nakamba, Bell and Brown though who have all undergone operations for hamstring and knee injuries this term, as Edwards said: “They’re a no. Those three are definitely out until pre-season unfortunately.”

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With so many missing from action, Edwards was forced to go with a back four of Fred Onyedinma, Daiki Hashioka, Reece Burke and Alfie Doughty when trying to stop Pep Guardiola’s then treble-chasing side on Saturday, an aim that is now down to a mere double following their Champions League exit to Real Madrid in midweek. Having lost 5-1, conceding three goals late on, it might be that Town have to go with something similar when facing a Brentford side who could have England striker Ivan Toney available to them tomorrow, as the boss said: “We’re got around 11 or 12 out, we had two goalkeepers on the bench, five teenagers on the bench at Man City.

"Our back four consisted of a centre back, a full back and two wingers, at Man City. We had that against (Erling) Haaland, it still makes me laugh now, otherwise I’d cry. We’re hopefully going to start getting into a stronger shape, everyone’s doing everything they can to try and do that. It becomes quite difficult, the lads are giving us everything.

"We’ve asked a lot of people in recent weeks, Liverpool we lost Sambi at half time and we lost Eli just before the Man United game, a couple of key people and it just started happening. We do ask a lot of our players in training and in the games, the intensity levels in this league are hard and the jump for us from the Championship to Premier League is big.

"Then we’ve gone and matched them and we’ve tried to out-run and out-work and out-press and out-fight a lot of teams and for us to be brave and go that way is physically demanding, it is, there’s no doubt about it. I’m asking a lot of our lads and one or two have probably suffered a bit because of that, but at the same time, if we hadn’t have gone that way and we didn’t play that way, we wouldn’t be in the position now. We wouldn’t be competing, people wouldn’t have been talking about us as ‘I like watching them,’ and ‘I’d like them to stay up,’ because of how we’ve gone about our business, so we have to try and go for it.”

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Despite the constant issues with injuries, Edwards felt the squad was still in a good place mentally with 15 huge points to play for, adding: “The lads’ mindset is right there. We’ve been good, we’ve had all these injury problems for quite a while now. To compete at Tottenham the way we did, away at Arsenal, to pick up a really important win against Bournemouth, the lads have been great.

"Last Saturday just proved too much against one of the best teams in the world, but that game we’ve almost just been able to go, right, that’s done. We had to go through it, we had to live through it, but the players have been brilliant and we’ve had a really good training week.”

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