Potts reflects on the 'horrible moment' he realised injury had ruined his Premier League dream with Luton

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Ligament and hamstring problems prevent long-serving defender from playing

Luton defender Dan Potts has recalled the ‘horrible moment’ in which he began to realise his dreams of making a Premier League appearance for the Hatters were going to be dashed last season.

​The 30-year-old was one of a quartet of players including Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Luke Berry and James Shea who had been with the club since their League Two days, helping Town get all the way to the highest tier of English football in just five years. Unlike the other three, Potts had experienced the top flight before having played twice when at West Ham as a youngster during the 2012-13 campaign, but doing so with a club he had spent nine years at would have been that extra bit special.

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However, he and Jordan Clark both suffered serious ankle ligament injuries during Luton’s pre-season trip to German side VfL Bochum in August that saw the pair ruled out for the opening three months, as while the latter was able to go on and feature in a significant chunk of the campaign, the former Hammer struggled to regain full fitness.

Town defender Dan Potts didn't get to play in the Premier League due to injury last season - pic: Alex Pantling/Getty ImagesTown defender Dan Potts didn't get to play in the Premier League due to injury last season - pic: Alex Pantling/Getty Images
Town defender Dan Potts didn't get to play in the Premier League due to injury last season - pic: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

He did manage to return to the bench for four Premier League matches at the turn of the year, plus the FA Cup third round replay with Bolton and fourth round trip to Everton, but following the 4-1 loss at Liverpool on February 21, suffered another hamstring problem in training which was to ultimately rule him out for the remainder.

Discussing how his campaign unfolded and the frustration at not being able to make it on to the pitch, having had such a big role to play in the penalty shoot-out success against Coventry City that saw Town take their place at the top table once more, Potts told the club’s official website: “It was a bad one, me and Clicker had the exact same injury and it wasn’t a good one. I just never really recovered from that really. I picked up another serious hamstring injury and the Premier League is so unforgiving, the level is so high, you have to literally be 100 percent.

"We did, definitely, as a team coming into the league as we haven’t got the luxury of being able to be off your game and pick up points. I’ve gone from the play-off final win to struggling with injuries and it wasn’t nice. I wanted to get on the pitch to have that moment with the boys, for myself and everyone else, but it just wasn’t to be, which is a shame.

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“It was tough as when you get an injury there's almost a naivety that you don't want to accept it’s as bad as what it actually is. You just think you're superhuman and you can push things to try and get back as quick as you can. I’ve always tried to do that, I've always tried to push things to the limit and sometimes your body just says no.

“That second injury really knocked me down a bit in terms of the realisation set in that maybe I was not going to be able to get on to the pitch and it was just a horrible moment, but it happens and it was just bad luck. I was thinking, okay, and you try and deal with it in the best way. I still managed to come in and see what the lads were doing, trying to push for the boys to do it (stay up), as all right I wasn't playing but you still want your team-mates to do well and stay in the league.

"It didn't happen, but from a personal point of view, it was, I wish I could have come on and helped as there were times throughout the season we had some bad injuries. I think if we had a fully fit squad things could have been different. It was a shame the way it ended as throughout the year I speak for all the boys there was definitely a time where there was a good level of confidence that yes, we’re staying in this league, but it wasn’t to be.”

Although Potts wasn’t able to pull on a Luton shirt again, his appearance count ending at 216, the 54th most in the club’s history, after not having his contract renewed recently, then from making his league debut in a 1-1 draw against York City in October 2015, he can look back over his time at Kenilworth Road with real pride.

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When joining under John Still, Potts knew there was a chance for the club to progress, although the speed at which they did caught even him by surprise, adding: “Looking back then, when I met John Still for the first time, I knew it was a team that was going to be pushing for sure, and it just fell into place pretty quickly from that respect.

"I think the Championship was always the objective, to get there. We always went about having a saying, we’ve got a Championship mentality, Championship standards. Then we moved to the Brache and it was okay, the training ground has stepped up, but once we got to the Championship, it was, well this isn’t going to stop.

“We stayed in the Championship, now can we push? When you zoom out and look back that progression was always there. Not many teams if ever will do what we've done, and I take a lot of pride in that as well. It’s been a hell of a journey, nine years, when I first joined I could never have dreamt it would go the way it did.

“Three promotions and nine years at one club, I met some amazing people as well. It exceeded all expectations really and something I can cherish for the rest of my life. Doing it with people that are just really good people, as I’d have never have met these people if it wasn't for Luton Town and the club. I’ll no doubt look at my time at Luton fondly, but even more so because of that, it’s been some journey.”

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