Mpanzu ready for the challenge to earn a place in Luton's team after the Hatters' impressive transfer window

Long-serving Pelly knows he faces a battle on his hands this term

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 7:36 am
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 7:38 am
Town midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu

Midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu is ready for the battle he faces to keep his place in the Hatters team after returning to a much-changed Luton squad this term.

With both George Moncur and Ryan Tunnicliffe having left during the summer, plus Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall returning to Leicester, Town chief Nathan Jones has boosted his options in the middle of the pitch, acquiring the services of Henri Lansbury and Allan Campbell to fight for a berth.

Coupled with that, Welsh international Joe Morrell has come back from a successful Euros, with both Fred Onyedinma and Carlos Mendes Gomes are on board too.

Mpanzu, who has missed the opening four friendlies while sorting out his contract that was finally signed on Monday, knows he is by no means a surefire starter despite playing 44 times for the club last term.

He said: “That is the challenge I live for.

“Everyone has to challenge themselves and make sure to keep your place in the team.

“The boys have done well from what I have seen and I can only put my best performances in.

“If my best isn’t enough and I have to start on the bench, I will put in 100 per cent with whatever I can give.”

Mpanzu has seen a fair few squads assembled during his near eight years at Kenilworth Road after signing from West Ham in December 2013.

On whether the 2021-22 crop is the best yet, he continued: “The Conference side would challenge this side because we went on a mad run of about 30 games.

“We had another good squad when we went another 20-odd games unbeaten but this side would challenge.

“The side is different, the dynamics are different so I couldn’t say yes or no but it is a great squad that has been assembled.

“Everyone is good. I had a look at them and there is some great quality so hopefully we can gel and produce the performances we know we can because it is not going to be easy.

“I have met all the boys and they have been welcoming.

"I am a welcoming type of guy but I’ve seen them and they’re all good, quality players and hopefully we can gel together quickly and make a run.

“Every Championship season you can finish sixth this season and 18th the next, for example.

“You have to keep consistency, you have to keep going and then hopefully you are going to get the right result at the end of the season.”

The Hatters are at home to Portsmouth this weekend in their latest pre-season friendly, but Mpanzu isn't sure where he will be used just yet after his first few days back with the side.

He added: “I’ve been going to the gym locally, been trying to get on the pitch and do ball work but nothing is the same as the pitch work you do when you come to a football club.

"It has been tough, it is hot out there but you have to get through it and be professional about it.

"It is my first week so I don’t know whether I’m going to be involved or whether I’ll be in and around the training ground putting the work in, getting myself ready for whenever I need to be called on.

“Maybe not this week, maybe next week for Peterborough, whenever it is going to be I should be ready."