MOTD pundit Micah Richards felt Adebayo's injury was to prove costly for Luton

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Striker’s absence was keenly felt by the Hatters

​​Former Manchester City and Aston Villa defender Micah Richards felt that had Luton striker Elijah Adebayo not got injured, it could have been a different outcome for the Hatters in the Premier League last season.

The ex-England international has a point too, as the 26-year-old was in his best spell of form at the midway point of the campaign, scoring a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion and following it up with another goal during the 4-4 draw with Newcastle United to make it six in nine games. He then suffered a hamstring injury in the warm-up to the Manchester United contest which ruled him out for 11 matches, Sambi Lokonga and Chiedozie Ogbene also missing out too, leaving Luton without 13 first teamers at one point.

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With Adebayo absent, the Hatters took just six points from a possible 33 as by the time he did recover, he soon showed Town what they had been missing with a finish of real quality in the 1-1 draw against Everton. It wasn’t enough though, Luton finished third from bottom to drop back to the Championship, as despite predicting them to go down, when discussing the efforts of all the top flight teams on The Rest is Football podcast, Richards said: “Don’t forget they lost Adebayo their striker for a vital part of the season. Had he stayed it it could have been different.

Luton striker Elijah Adebayo missed 11 matches for the Hatters through injury - pic: Liam SmithLuton striker Elijah Adebayo missed 11 matches for the Hatters through injury - pic: Liam Smith
Luton striker Elijah Adebayo missed 11 matches for the Hatters through injury - pic: Liam Smith

“I thought (Alfie) Doughty played well for them this season, left back, left wingback at times, Ross Barkley, outstanding again. He really found himself at Luton, he’s been brilliant. They didn’t quite have enough but I think they did better than we thought. I thought they’d be more like a Sheffield United in terms of points and the way they played. I think financially they’re in a good place as well, in good stead to bounce back next season, so a great effort from them, but just not enough.”

Hatters chief Rob Edwards agreed with Richards that the crippling injury list that Town had was to drastically hinder their efforts to stay up, as he said: “The only stuff that has impacted us has been the injuries ultimately. At the back end of January I really liked the look of us. We looked really strong and I had full belief that we could go do it. Then all of a sudden we just lost too many people, we were threadbare, we were. The lads gave us everything, but I could turn around to two goalkeepers and five teenagers and it was difficult. We just pushed and the lads pushed so hard and in the end it was too much.”

Speaking on the podcast, ex-Newcastle and Blackburn forward Alan Shearer also praised the manner in which Town fought tooth and nail to remain in the top flight, continuing: “At least they gave themselves a fighting chance didn’t they. In regards to other two (promoted teams), I never ever once thought that they would every stay up, whereas Luton, I thought they were competitive.” As giving his own thoughts, host Gary Lineker added: “Rob Edwards came across really well, he did the club proud and I think they’ll have every chance of bouncing back.”

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