PREVIEW: Swansea City v Luton Town

Hatters head to the Liberty Stadium this weekend
Hatters head to the Liberty Stadium on SaturdayHatters head to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday
Hatters head to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday

Swansea City were the big winners when the Championship resumed last weekend as they wasted no chance to make up for lost time when racking up a 3-0 win at struggling Middlesbrough.

The Swans, who many had tipped to enjoy a concerted promotion push this term, were clearly keen to hit the ground running and cut the deficit to the top six, going into the contest three points behind Preston North End, who occupied the final play-off berth.

They did just that too, running up a 3-0 lead by half time thanks to Rhian Brewster's double and an Andre Ayew penalty to close the gap on the Lilywhite to a single point, although the Swans still need to leapfrog both Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers to achieve their goal.

Steve Cooper's side had looked like they were going to fight for a top two berth back in August, as they won five out of their opening six games, drawing the other one to take an impressive 16 points out of 18.

Some patchy home form and too many away draws have seen the Welsh side unable to sustain that challenge though as since the turn of the year, they have found victories tough to come by, claiming all the points in just four out of 13 league encounters.

The Swans are tougher to beat on their own turn again now though, putting a run of just two triumphs from 10 behind them, with just one defeat in nine, four wins and four draws.

Cooper knows his side have every chance of reaching the top six if they take care of their own results in the final eight games, telling the club's official website: “We’re massively excited, we can’t wait for the games to come.

“I think the picture will change like it did last weekend. You can easily look at what else is going on, but you’ve got to look after yourselves.

“We’re excited to be part of it, we’re right in the mix and we always feel we have been. The games can’t come quick enough."

The club were also given a boost in the week with the quintet of Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer, Mike van der Hoorn, Kyle Naughton and Erwin Mulder, who all were due to be out of contract on June 30, agreeing terms through to August 4, the date of the Championship play-off final.

Cooper used his England contacts well during the transfer window, bringing in Chelsea's Conor Gallagher whom he worked with at U17 level, the midfielder impressing at Charlton during the first half of the campaign.

He also added defender Marc Guehi from Stamford Bridge too, who has played for England at U16 to U21 age-groups.

Team news: Luton are without Kazenga LuaLua for the trip to Wales, although Luke Berry is fit and Luke Bolton could be involved too.

Brendan Galloway and Eunan O'Kane are both still missing with knee injuries.

For Swansea, Kyle Naughton is fully fit after an ankle injury restricted him to a place on the bench in last week’s win over Middlesbrough.

Centre-halves Joe Rodon and Mike van der Hoorn are also back in full training, although the latter won't be considered as he builds up his fitness.

Top scorers: Hatters: James Collins (11). Swans: Andre Ayew (15).

Milestones: Town midfielder Glen Rea will make his 150th appearance if selected against Swansea tomorrow.

The 25-year-old signed on loan from Brighton in March 2016, making his move permanent that summer.

He has become a huge favourite with supporters during his time at Kenilworth Road, scoring five goals as well.

Man in the middle: Andy Woolmer. Saturday will be his fourth Luton game this term, having taken the 3-0 defeat at Reading, plus 2-1 home reverse to West Bromwich Albion and 1-1 draw against Stoke City just before the coronavirus pandemic.

The official has refereed 30 matches in total so far, with 82 yellows and three reds.

Last season, he took Town twice, the 2-1 defeat at Peterborough United in the Checkatrade Trophy and 2-0 home win over Walsall in League One.

He has also had the whistle for Luton a further seven times in his career, Hatters winning just once, with four draws and two defeats.

Assistant referees are Andrew Fox and Mark Pottage, with the fourth official Peter Wright.

In charge: Steve Cooper - 40-year-old who began his playing career with Wrexham, but never made a first team appearance for the club.

Featured for Rhyl, Bangor City, The New Saints and Porthmadog, before studying for his coaching badges and started work at Wrexham's academy aged just 19, soon named head of youth development.

In September 2008, he went to Premier League Liverpool to coach the U12s, appointed as manager of the Reds' academy in July 2011, overseeing the development of Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

In 2013, he joined the FA as a youth coach educator, before becoming England U16s manager in October 2014, taking charge of the U17s the following year.

Led the Three Lions to the final of the 2017 UEFA European U17 Championship, where they lost to Spain, before winning the FIFA U17 World Cup in October 2017, beating Spain 5–2 in the final.

His success with the national age-groups saw an opportunity arise in club management, appointed head coach of Swansea in June 2019 on a three-year contract.

View from the opposition: Steve Cooper talking to Wales Online: “There’s so many teams playing for something, wherever they are in the league.

"I don’t think it’s too much about playing league position. There’s no real form, although everyone’s played a game now.

"There’s no real rhythm to the games yet because we’ve only played one.

"This Saturday will be no different. We’re at home, yes, there’s no fans, but we’re in familiar surroundings.

"We’re right at the back end of the season with so much to play for."

One to watch: Rhian Brewster. The 20-year-old attacker has been a revelation since joining on loan from Premier League champions Liverpool in January.

Up and running on his home debut against Wigan, he has now scored six goals in just 11 games, including a double last weekend.

Has played for England at all age levels from U17 to U21, where he was managed by current Swans boss Steve Cooper in the U17s.

Friendly faces: Luton's on-loan defender Cameron Carter-Vickers headed to Swansea from Spurs in the 2018-19 season, making 33 appearances for the Swans in the Championship.

The centre half joined Stoke earlier this season before moving to Luton in January and has played eight times so far.

Luton's head of academy coaching and professional player development Adrian Forbes played 79 times for the Hatters between 2001-2004, scoring 19 goals, before moving to Swansea in June 2004.

He played over 80 times for the Swans, scoring 12 goals, including the last league strike at the Vetch in April 2005, before going into academy coaching when retiring, and returned to the Hatters in the summer.

Played for both: Philip Boersma. Striker began his career with Liverpool, playing over 50 times, as he won a Division One title and UEFA Cup during his time at Anfield.

Left for Middlesbrough in 19765 for a fee of £72,000 and then headed to Luton in August 1977, playing 40 times and scoring 11 goals, including a double during the 3-1 win over Cardiff on May 4, 1978.

Headed to Swansea from Kenilworth Road in 1978 to linked up with former club colleague John Toshack.

After retiring, he moved into physiotherapy and coaching, heading back to Swansea as assistant manager, leaving in 1983 to join Lincoln City and then Doncaster Rovers as first team coach.

Named physio at Liverpool during Graeme Souness's reign and then followed his ex Reds team-mate to Southampton, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.

Left Tyneside in 2005 and had a brief spell with Welsh Premiership side Llangefni Town as assistant manager.

We've got form: Luton have had a pretty torrid time of it when heading to Swansea during their history since games started against Swansea Town in the Southern League, going down to a 2-0 defeat on March 29, 1913.

They did triumph the following year, Arthur Wileman on target, before a 24-year winless run was ended in 1938 by a 3-2 Division Two triumph.

Town managed four victories, six draws and 11 defeats while Swansea were called Town, but have only won once since they changed to City in 1969.

That came at the fifth time of asking with a 3-1 success in the new Division Three back in March 2002, Matthew Taylor, Peter Holmes and Steve Howard on the scoresheet.

Goals have been hard to come by in Wales, Luton drawing five blanks in their last seven trips, as overall, Hatters have won just five, drawn seven and lost 16 out of their 28 visits, scoring 25 times and conceding 49.

Last time out: Luton looked to be on their way to a draw at Swansea in their last clash, a League One meeting in February 2008, their only trip to the Liberty Stadium since it opened three years earlier.

However, Sol Davis was then shown red for his second caution on 69 minutes and the hosts claimed victory with 11 to go through Tom Butler.

Hatters: Dean Brill, Richard Jackson, Chris Perry, Sol Davis, Drew Talbot (Alan Goodall 72), Lewis Emanuel, Matthew Spring, Keith Keane, Steve Robinson (Calvin Andrew 84), David Bell, Sam Parkin (Paul Furlong 66).

Subs not used: Marlon Beresford, Paul McVeigh.

Referee: Andy Penn.

Attendance: 14,122.