Pettit treasures the experience of captaining a strong Luton XI in Stevenage clash

Hatters teen chosen to skipper Town team at Top Field
Town youngster Casey Pettit - pic: Gareth OwenTown youngster Casey Pettit - pic: Gareth Owen
Town youngster Casey Pettit - pic: Gareth Owen

Luton youngster Casey Pettit relished the experience of not only just playing with a large number of first teamers during Tuesday afternoon’s development clash against Stevenage, but also captaining them as well.

The 19-year-old has been a regular for the U23s so far this term, and with boss Nathan Jones using the fixture to get valuable minutes into a number of his squad ahead of a busy Championship schedule, Danny Hylton, Luke Berry, Dan Potts, Gabe Osho and Glen Rea all featuring, it meant there was less room for Town's teenagers to be selected.

Four of them still were though, TQ Addy, Jacob Pinnington, Ed McJannet and Pettit named in the starting line-up, while for the latter, he was given the extra responsibility of the armband too, even though the likes of Rea and Potts have done it for the first team.

Speaking about the honour of not just being one of few chosen to take to the field, but also leading the side out, he said: “It’s a really good experience for us younger lot, to step up into these games and not only get led by them, but take tips from them.

“Then we when we get into our games, whether that’s the youth team, 18s, or we don’t have any of the first team lot, we can take away some of their advice and just learn from them.

“You learn from any little thing, even one bit of communication can do so much for us, so it’s really good experience and one we treasure.

“They’ve got massive experience, they’re older than us, looking up it can be quite nervous for some of us, but those boys are top.

“They always look at us and count us as one of them, so when we get into those games, they don’t have any difference to a first team game, which is credit to them as they conduct themselves really well.

“It’s really good, you just want to play with them every week, it’s great experience, and one that you can’t really get enough of, it’s one that you look forward to.

“It’s a good confidence boost (being captain) and one that I wear with pride.

“It’s just another game for me, that’s how I look at it, just another 23s game and one where I can showcase what I’m about and look to try and progress into the first team, as that’s where the end goal is and to then go from there.

"It's a really good feeling to have the armband, but also to be one of the few youngsters to be involved is really good.”

Although there was just a smattering of supporters in attendance at Top Field, manager Jones was an interested onlooker, along with his entire backroom staff, Mick Harford, Chris Cohen, Alan Sheehan and a number of others all present.

On whether that brought any more pressure to his own performance, Pettit continued: “Always as a youngster when you go into a game with a load of first teamers, there’s always that bit of nervousness about it.

"You always get told people are watching, but you just got to block that out of your head.

"I’ve played a fair few games now, you have a little bit of a crowd and you have higher people watching and important people watching.

"You need to showcase what you’re about and do well, but ultimately you need to block that our of your head and just play your normal game.”

Pettit started the match alongside Osho in the heart of Town's defence, switching into the holding role late on, when Rea went off and another talented youngster, Aidan Francis-Clarke came on.

When asked what his favourite role was, the former West Ham youngster said: "I like to think I’m usually a central defensive midfield player, although recently, due to injuries and people needing to play somewhere, I’ve stepped in at the back and done quite well I’d like to think.

"I enjoy it there, so I just like to play wherever I can get on, wherever there’s a position that needs to be played, I’ll play.

“Over the last few weeks and month and a half, it’s really helped me out.

"It's given me opportunities to train with the first team and given me opportunities like today if Glen is to be playing in that number four role then I can step in at the back and can do a shift there, it’s good to have in the locker.”

In tough conditions, it was Stevenage who had the better of things overall, Harry Isted making a number of fine stops, before he was eventually beaten with four minutes to go as Boro ran out 1-0 winners.

Although happy to be back on a pitch again after a Christmas without any matches, Pettit was left a touch frustrated with the final outcome.

He added; “We haven’t had a game in a while, so it was good to get back out there.

"I was really looking forward to the game as well, disappointed how the result ended up, but a great experience for us lot, the younger lot anyway to come out here.

“It’s been tough as usually a busy schedule over Christmas, but the boys did well to come back in.

"The attitude is good in training, so we've just been cracking on there.

“It’s one of those ones where it could go either way, tough pitch, tough conditions, but credit to them, they got the goal.

"It's disappointing for us as I thought we could have done better in patches, but we haven’t played a game in a while, there’s no real excuse, but disappointed to concede at the end.

“Just the final ball (was lacking) and whether that comes from lack of game time or what I don’t know, but there were some good patches in there for us.

"The main thing is we got into those positions and then it’s just that composure to put it in the back of the net.”