Town chief labels rule that left Luton with nine men against Spurs and Arsenal as 'nuts'

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Hatters had to defend without a recognised centre half for 30 seconds on Wednesday

Luton boss Rob Edwards has labelled the rule that sees a player have to spend 30 seconds off the field after having received treatment while on it as ‘nuts’.

For the second time this campaign, the Hatters almost came a cropper to the directive on Wednesday night when they were facing Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium no less. Shorn of six defenders already, with Tom Lockyer, Amari’i Bell, Reece Burke, Gabe Osho, Mads Andersen and Dan Potts all absent, they went with a back three of Daiki Hashioka, Teden Mengi and Issa Kabore.

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During the first half, and with Luton trailing 1-0, Hashioka was then cleaned out by the follow through of William Saliba after the Frenchman won the ball, which saw him stay down at first, then get up and try and run back when referee Craig Pawson allowed the Gunners to carry on attacking, before falling to the ground once more when realising the pain was too much, earning him some harsh boos from the home supporters.

Daiki Hashioka receives treatment during Wednesday night's 2-0 defeat to Arsenal - pic: Liam SmithDaiki Hashioka receives treatment during Wednesday night's 2-0 defeat to Arsenal - pic: Liam Smith
Daiki Hashioka receives treatment during Wednesday night's 2-0 defeat to Arsenal - pic: Liam Smith

The move saw Mengi also make a terrific block on Reiss Nelson inside the area, an effort that saw him take a blow to his ankle, as once Pawson finally stopped the play, the Town’s medics were able to come and check out the situation for the pair. As soon as that had happened though, it meant the duo had to go off to the sidelines when patched up and wait for half a minute as play resumed, despite the injures being no fault of their own, the official even waving the Japanese international off again after he tried to take his place ahead of schedule.

It left Luton without a single recognised centre back on the pitch, Kabore, Alfie Doughty and Fred Onyedinma charged with keeping Mikel Arteta’s side quiet until they were back to the full numbers, a period they thankfully came through unscathed. Town had been here before too, as when hosting the Gunners’ great north London rivals Spurs back in October, Carlton Morris went down when challenging for a high ball, with Tom Lockyer getting a kick to the face as he stooped to try and win a header. Both times it left the Hatters trying to get through for 30 seconds against an elite level of opposition while down to nine men, a task that is already pretty difficult even with a full complement.

In midweek, Edwards only had Joe Johnson and 16-year-old Christian Chigozie available as possible defensive replacements had either Mengi or Hashioka added to Luton’s constant problems. Asked what he was feeling at the time, a baffled Town chief said: “I don't know what I was thinking at that moment, I don’t like that rule by the way when two players have to go off, we end up with nine men against these teams. I felt myself age during that 30 seconds, it’s not good, that’s not good. The one earlier in the season as well, Locks chipped his tooth and Carlton got a broken nose. They’ve both got blatant injuries and we’ve got nine men against Tottenham, Tottenham! It's nuts that rule.”

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