Returning Onyedinma back from the cold to play a 'key role' to play in Luton's survival bid

Town attacker makes his Premier League debut during Spurs defeat
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Luton boss Rob Edwards believes returning winger Fred Onyedinma could now have a ‘key role’ to play in Town’s attempts to stay in the Premier League this term after he was a surprise inclusion for the Hatters’ match-day squad during the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

The 26-year-old moved to Kenilworth Road from Wycombe Wanderers in the summer of 2021, going on to play 53 times in all competitions, scoring three goals, although a number of persistent injuries meant just 22 of those outings came from the start. Coming on as a substitute in the Championship play-off final victory over Coventry City in May, Onyedinma was then sent to the second tier once more in July, joining Rotherham United on loan, where he made 19 appearances, scoring twice, before heading back to Bedfordshire after another injury setback, meaning he hadn’t featured anywhere since a 4-1 defeat to Hull City on November 28.

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With Town able to name a 25-man squad in the Premier League, Edwards had left a space open for club captain Tom Lockyer, who suffered an on-field cardiac arrest, but with the defender unsure whether he will be allowed by doctors to make any kind of playing return yet, and the Hatters in the middle of an almighty injury crisis, it was left to Onyedinma to fill that space. The ex-Millwall youngster, who saw another loan move away from the club during January fail to materialise, was named among the substitutes in north London at the weekend, Luton also having two goalkeepers and three youngsters on the bench.

Edwards was hit with yet further injuries on the day, Reece Burke going off at half time and then goalscorer Tahith Chong unable to carry on with 73 minutes gone, meaning Onyedinma was called upon for his first senior match in over four months to make what was his top flight debut. Asked if he could have a big part to play in Luton’s attempts to stay up, the Hatters chief said: “They’re all going to play a key role now at the moment as that’s what we’ve got. Fred has come in a little bit from the cold when he didn’t get the loan move at the end of January.

"We wanted to give Locks as much time as possible to be able to name him in the 25 man squad, but because we didn’t name Locks, we had to name someone else that it would be if it wasn’t Locks and that was obviously Fred. We needed his speed with (Pedro) Porro who was causing one or two problems then. So when Chongy had to come off, I thought Fred’s speed then was the right thing to do. He came on the pitch and he did fine, and he ended up at left back when Alfie had to go off.”