Pilkington relishing the opportunity to work with 'intense' Hatters number one Sluga

Town coach looking forward to the return of Croatian international

By Mike Simmonds
Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 7:00 am
Town keeper Simon Sluga
Town keeper Simon Sluga

New Luton goalkeeper coach Kevin Pilkington is relishing the opportunity to get work with Town’s ‘intense’ Croatian international Simon Sluga at Kenilworth Road.

The 47-year-old was added to the Hatters’ backroom staff recently following his departure from Championship rivals Barnsley, bolstering a goalkeeping department headed up by Kevin Dearden.

With Sluga having been away on duty with his country, watching from the substitutes' bench as they qualified for the World Cup this week, Pilkington’s time with the Town number one has been limited.

However, with no breaks now until March next year, the former Manchester United stopper is eager to get to work, saying: “Simon is away with Croatia at the moment and they’ve done a fantastic job of qualifying for the World Cup, but to work with an international goalkeeper again, that’s brilliant, to see how he works and what goes through his head.

“I’ve been lucky, I’ve worked with Roy Carroll while he was with Northern Ireland, Bartosz Bialkowski when he broke into the Poland squad and Kasper (Schmeichel) a little bit at Notts County as well.

“So it’s nice to work with those sorts of goalkeepers, the ones that are playing elite level football.

“You can learn off them as much as they learn off you, so it’s just taking those little bits.

“He’s very, very focused, he’s very intense in his work, when he’s working he’s fully concentrating on that.

“It’s an interesting one for me to look at, he’s a different character to other goalkeepers that I’ve worked with, so I can learn from that and see what makes him tick as well as what I think can make him tick.

“To qualify for the biggest tournament in the world, it’s a fantastic achievement for them and hopefully he’ll kick on and get in that squad for next year.”

Pilkington, who had been working in a similar role at Barnsley earlier this year until deciding to leave Oakwell, has enjoyed getting to know the other goalkeepers at Kenilworth Road during his brief stint to date.

He continued: “Sheasy (James Shea) and Harry (Isted) have been brilliant.

"I’ve done a lot more work with them than I have with Simon, with the amount of games and they’re brilliant to work with.

"They get their head down, do their work, they want to learn, they're always asking questions and it’s a great environment.

"The young boys coming over from the academy, they’ve been brilliant with me as well."

On what his role will entail with the Hatters, the ex-Manchester United stopper, who has also coached at Ilkeston, Cambridge United and Notts County previously, added: “He’s (Dearden) leading it at the moment and we’re working really well together.

"It’s nice that you’ve got two sets of eyes on the goalkeepers as well, so it’s one moving forward that it will evolve and adapt a little bit, but ultimately Kev’s in charge and we’ll just go from there.

"I’m just enjoying being in there, enjoying working with the goalkeepers, we’ve got three, four good young goalkeepers there and it’s really good."