Town chief impressed with Barkley and Burke as Luton duo get first run-outs in Blues defeat

Defender and midfielder are the two changes against Chelsea
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Hatters boss Rob Edwards was happy with the efforts of both Ross Barkley and Reece Burke after the pair made their first starts of the season for Luton at Chelsea on Friday night.

Barkley, who was one of Town’s most high profile signings of the summer, replaced Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu as one of the two changes from the 4-1 defeat to Brighton, taking the field at a place he used to call home, signing for the Blues from Everton in January 2018 for a fee of £15m.

Eager to get on the ball in what his first Premier League outings since May 2022, when had scored for the Blues in a 2-1 win over Watford, the 29-year-old used the ball well when he had it, with a passing accuracy of 86.2 percent, while his top flight nous was clear to see, winning a number of free kicks.

Ross Barkley on the ball during his Luton debut against Chelsea - pic: Liam SmithRoss Barkley on the ball during his Luton debut against Chelsea - pic: Liam Smith
Ross Barkley on the ball during his Luton debut against Chelsea - pic: Liam Smith

He couldn’t quite have the fairy-tale return, blasting one set-piece way over the bar, before being replaced with 13 minutes to go, but on the ex-England international’s first outing for the Hatters, Edwards said: “Ross, I’m really pleased with him.

“The couple of weeks since he’s been in, he’s made a real impact in training.

“He’s been a great influence on the group and I thought his performance was good.

"I know there’s a lot more to come from him as well, so that was a big plus for us.

“He showed some very good moments, was very, very good with the ball and he will get better, which adds a lot more competition to the group, which is just what we want.”

Meanwhile, Burke came in for Mads Andersen, to start a first Luton game since April 15, and also a first Premier League match since May 2015, when he was part of a West Ham side who lost 2-0 at Newcastle.

On the centre half who, like Barkley, got through 77 minutes and is hopefully now over his injury problems which have blighted him during his time at Kenilworth Road, Edwards added: “I was pleased, really pleased with Burkey.

"We’ve got to make sure we’re managing his load as it was his first competitive game for a long time.

“These teams ask certain questions of you and those outside centre backs have got to be really brave the way we go.

"Burkey was going all the way in with Enzo Fernandez, who is a special player, so he was really brave.”