New deal for Luton youngster shows there is 'no glass ceiling' at Kenilworth Road
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The decision to award Luton youngster Jayden Luker a new contract shows there is ‘no glass ceiling’ at Kenilworth Road for the next generation who are looking to make their name with the Hatters according to Development squad head coach Adrian Forbes.
The 18-year-old has adapted swiftly to life in Bedfordshire, as after arriving in the summer of 2022 from ProDirect East London, where he scored against Town in a friendly match, the midfielder became a vital part of the U18s side that reached the FA Youth Cup fifth round last term, winning both the Youth Alliance South East title and Merit League 1 title, signing a professional development contract back in March.
Luton’s promotion to the Premier League hasn’t dented his progress either, Luker upgraded to training with the first team squad, and has even made it on to the bench for three top flight games so far this term, the matches with Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and Liverpool, while he was also an unused substitute in the 1-0 Carabao Cup defeat at Exeter.
It’s not just Luker either, with defender Joe Johnson on the bench six times in the highest tier of English football, also getting his full debut in that match with the Grecians, while being called up for the England squad who were knocked out of the U17s World Cup this week.
Meanwhile, with injuries biting hard this term, particularly defensively, a raft of the Development squad have been involved on a match-day, including Aidan Francis-Clarke and Zack Nelson, while midfielder Jake Burger was on the bench in the Carabao Cup, meaning just twice, against Wolves and Fulham, has there not been a youngster selected.
With Nelson, Johnson, Jacob Pinnington and Axel Piesold also signing professional development contracts earlier in the year, they were joined this summer by Archie Heron, Ben Tompkins, Jack Bateson, Joshua Odell-Bature, Joshua Phillips, Marcus Daws, Millar Matthews-Lewis and Oliver Lynch, as Town looked to keep the conveyor belt of talent coming through.
With Luker’s long term future now secure, Forbes believes it can act as a catalyst for those mentioned, as he said: “Jayden has been superb since he came back in for pre-season.
"His attitude, work-rate and desire to listen and develop has been first class from an academy point of view.
“He’s taken on board the detail and information from Rob when training with the first team which has allowed him to thrive.
“It’s been really rewarding to see how many times he’s been on the bench for Premier League fixtures.
"He’s still got more work to do to get that debut but if he keeps continuing as he is, hopefully that won’t be too far away.
“It’s great to see Jayden along with the likes of Zack Nelson, Jake Burger, Aidan Francis-Clarke, Joe Johnson being in-and-around the first team and being on the bench.
“It shows the rest of the Development squad group that there is no glass ceiling.
"If they all keep working hard and are prepared to put hard work in, they are at a club with first team staff that will back them, trust them and put them in at the right opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Forbes is confident that given his exposure to the top flight with Luton, a maiden Premier League outing should be the next goal for Luker, as he added: “The hard work for Jayden really starts now, he’s got the contract but there’s still a lot of work to do.
"I’m sure if he continues to execute that correct attitude and application, that debut won’t be far away for him.”