New Town signings Onyedinma and Burke are relishing running out in front of the Hatters fans as Luton players

Duo looking forward to welcoming supporters back next season

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 7:15 am
Reece Burke goes up against former Luton striker James Collins during Hull's 3-0 win at Luton in September 2019
Reece Burke goes up against former Luton striker James Collins during Hull's 3-0 win at Luton in September 2019

New Luton signings Fred Onyedinma and Reece Burke are eager to experience running out at Kenilworth Road as home players when fans are expected to be allowed back in next season.

Attacking midfielder Onyedinma, who was signed for an undisclosed fee from Wycombe Wanderers, has visited the stadium four times in his career, winning the first two trips with the Chairboys and Millwall, scoring once in the Lions' 3-1 Checkatrade Trophy success in November 2016.

He then suffered back-to-back 2-0 defeats with Wycombe in the FA Cup during November 2018 and the Championship fixture last term.

On running out wearing the Hatters shirt next term and also being able to play in front of supporters following the coronavirus restrictions preventing spectators from attending, he said: "Of course as now it’s not the fans shouting at me, it’s them cheering me on.

“It’s been crazy because, at first, you think it feels like a pre-season or training game, but throughout the season you kind of get used to it.

“It sounds weird when you’re celebrating a goal and you can literally hear yourself, it’s just something we had to get used to but hopefully for not much longer.

“I think it was maybe around December when the fans were coming back, it gave you a glimmer of hope and you remember how football was.

“It does make it different and it’s kind of sad, really, because even the last season when I was at Wycombe and we got promoted and there was no fans.

"It feels nice but it’s not the same as when there’s fans.

“As a player, sometimes you need that extra motivation and that’s what I’d say would be the massive difference.

“When it stopped, we as footballers got used to it, but seeing the games now with fans, you can just see the difference, so I’m looking forward to that and hopefully that continues."

With Onyedinma and the rest of the Town players having gone so long without playing in front of a crowd, he does anticipate there being the odd butterfly when they walk out of the tunnel to a cauldron of noise again, adding: "It’s nerves, but it’s also excitement.

"Even when you’re young, playing on big stages is what we all want to play football for.

“On a Saturday, the routine of the fans, it just feels normal again, so I think it’s more excitement than nerves."

Meanwhile, Burke tasted victory on his only previous outing at the stadium, as Hull emerged 3-0 winners during Town's first season back in the Championship.

He too didn't enjoy playing without supporters present last term, especially as the Tigers emerged as League One champions, adding: "It’s been very difficult for everyone.

"If you speak to any player, football’s different when you haven’t got fans there.

“Sometimes it feels like a training game when there’s no-one there.

“I’ve played at Luton before but it would be nice to be there as the home team and hopefully the fans get to see us play and obviously me as well.

“Hopefully the whole Covid business is settled down and we can have a full season with fans in.”