Pelly: We can definitely reach the Championship play-offs

Midfielder confident going into the second half of the season

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 21st January 2022, 1:29 pm
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 1:42 pm
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu on the ball against Bournemouth at the weekend
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu on the ball against Bournemouth at the weekend

Town midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu insists the Hatters can definitely reach the Championship play-offs this season.

The Hatters moved to within seven points of the top six on Wednesday night with a comfortable 2-0 triumph at a woeful Reading side.

A Christmas of inactivity due to Covid outbreaks means Town still have two games in had over Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion, who occupy the final two berths, ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Sheffield United.

Luton can go to Bramall Lane full of confidence too, currently on a five game unbeaten run, which includes a draw and a win against the top two of Fulham and Bournemouth.

When asked he if thought Town could aim to continue their season beyond the final game on May 7, Mpanzu said: “We can, of course we can.

“Listen, we’ve still got to take it game by game, our aim was at the beginning of the season to make the play-offs, so if we achieve that it’s a wonderful thing.

“But game by game, day by day, so we can’t look too ahead, but that was our aim at the start of the season.

“We know what a good club we are, now we’ve got to prove it.

“We’ve still got a couple of games in hand on the table, so all we’ve got to do is keep the momentum going, keep trying to get three points and move up the table.”

Boss Nathan Jones was also looking up this season too, as he said:” We’ll go for whatever we can achieve.

"We’ve got no fear about where we are, but we’ve got to add consistency to our game.

"We know we’re a good side, Fulham since they’ve come to us have gone on a cricket spree, but when they came to us, they were fortunate to get away with a 1-1 draw.

"It was a wonderful game and it shows the level we’re at.

"Then Bournemouth are arguably the second if not the best team in the league, and we were outstanding, so we know what a good side is in there.

"Our numbers back up our belief and that's important, but it’s a long way to go and we’re in a real good place.

"We've got 35 points now after just over half-way, and we believe we should have more, but we won't be greedy, we’ll be realistic and keep plodding on.

"We hope the fixture schedule doesn’t kill us a little bit, but at the minute we’re in a nice bit of rhythm.

"We've had a month of just pure training, so now it’s nice to have game after game and hopefully we can keep picking up points.”

With Luton now facing a hectic run of matches, playing twice a week until midway through February, Mpanzu knows that there will be some changes to the team in order to be at their best for a run of seven encounters in 22 days.

He continued: “We’ve got a hell of a lot of games until February, so we’re going to need the whole squad.

"The gaffer’s developed a good squad here, so everyone's going to be used.

"Everyone can’t churn out 90 minutes every single week, he's going to have to chop and change.

"I know the boys are ready when picked, so they’ll be raring to go.”

Meanwhile, Town’s chances of making the top six this season could well rest on the continued high-class form of talisman Elijah Adebayo, who gave another masterclass in leading the line for Luton at the Select Car Leasing Stadium in midweek.

Although not on target himself, he did set up the Hatters’ second goal, taking Mpanzu’s wonderful threaded pass before setting up Allan Campbell for a second in as many games.

The long-serving midfielder added: “He’s a target man, all our strikers are, even Hylts (Danny Hylton) who’s out injured currently.

"Cam (Cameron Jerome) has done well, Ade’s (Muskwe) played up there, Carlos (Mendes Gomes) has played in a false nine, everyone's doing well, but Elijah’s leading the line very well.

"It’s a good performance from him, obviously he didn’t get a goal, but sometimes strikers have got to work your socks off and feed other people and that's what he did, great performance from him.”