Town winger Callum McManaman is hoping that his goalscoring display from the bench against Nottingham Forest on Saturday is enough to earn him another start at Reading tomorrow.
The 28-year-old came on for the final half hour of Luton’s 2-1 defeat to the Reds, scoring an excellent second goal of the season, as he cleverly beat his man with a wonderful bit of skill and then bent a curling effort past Brice Samba.
McManaman had been back amongst the substitutes after starting the previous weekend during the 2-1 reverse at Birmingham City.
When asked if he hoped to be in from the beginning at the Madejski Stadium, he said: “Yes, obviously, but I think last week it was a tough game and we didn’t get the points.
“I’d say the forward players didn’t get much of the ball.
“Birmingham packed the midfield, so you’ve just got to keep going and when you come on you’ve got to make an impact as I did, so hopefully I’ll be back in next week.
“I think that’s the good thing about our squad.
“Even the lads who are disappointed not to be playing this season have come on and done well off the bench.
“So I think the gaffer’s been happy with that, but everybody is disappointed with the result, so it kind of gets pushed to the side.”
McManaman’s goal was the first time he has scored twice in a campaign since the 2014-15 season when he netted five for Wigan in the Championship, earning a big money move to West Bromwich Albion.
However, in his defence, of his next 77 league appearances for the Baggies, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and Wigan once more, only 23 have come from the start.
The winger continued: “It’s a decent finish, but it means nothing with the result, we’re all disappointed.
“I’m playing more further forward now, I’ve usually been on the wing, back and forward all game.
“So under this gaffer (Graeme Jones), I’m playing a bit further forward and getting more chances and more opportunities to shoot and to cross.”
After the game, Jones was particularly critical of his side for the first time this term, saying he had felt ‘let down’ by some of the players.
McManaman admitted Town’s squad knew they hadn’t been up to the required standard needed in the Championship, saying: “I think all the lads agreed with him, when he said that after the game.
“Everyone was on the same page, there’s not many good performances, individually to pick from.
“Sometimes in some of the games we’ve got beat, you can say ‘he played well, he played well, he didn’t,’ but today I don’t think we were at the races.
“All the lads have accepted that and we’re going to have to pick ourselves up.”
One thing that did impress Jones was his summer signing’s strike though, the manager saying: “We had a go and Callum scored a great goal.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen Callum one v one, really with intention and intensity.
"We’re getting him in the right areas, I’ve seen an improvement in Callum’s performance, he’s getting close to what I think he can do, he just needs to do it from the start now, that’s his last challenge.
"I said to you about Callum four months ago that he takes longer than anybody else to get fit.
"All of a sudden he’s got a couple of goals, and you’re seeing that one v one quality where he’s going past people.
"He’s a very unique player Callum and one that you can easily misread if you don’t understand him."
McManaman has played 13 times for Town since arriving in the summer and believes his new-found enjoyment for the game once more, means he is starting to get back to somewhere near his best.
Working with Jones once more, the pair were at Wigan together earlier in their careers, is proving a real boost too, as he added: “I started the first few games this season, did all right, picked up a niggle, came back, picked up another little niggle and missed a few games.
“I want a run of games, so when I get that under my belt, then we’ll see where we’re at.
“They’ve had me training hard, the gaffer knows how to get the best out me.
“Hopefully I can get a run in the side now and kick on, but we need to start picking up points, that’s the main thing.
“I’m enjoying being down here though.
“I’m living down here, it’s the first time I’ve lived down south, so I’m settled and I’m enjoying it.
"As soon as I knew the gaffer was interested, then I just wanted to sign straight away, so I’d say that was the main reason.
“I haven’t played though (previously), so it’s not as if I’ve played and been poor, I’ve been in and out, been coming off the bench.
"Now I’m getting more game time this season, so hopefully I can kick on."