Town teen could be involved at Tottenham after recovering from glandular fever as Edwards won't be afraid to put youngsters in

Defender might be included in match-day squad
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Teenager Joe Johnson could well be involved in Luton’s squad that heads to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday after making a recovery from glandular fever.

The defender, who can also operate as a wingback, has featured three times for the Town first team this term, starting the Carabao Cup exit at Exeter City, while coming off the bench during the FA Cup ties with Everton and Manchester City. He had over 50 minutes against Erling Haaland and co in the 6-2 FA Cup fifth round exit last month, but was then ruled out of the Hatters’ last four games after contracting the viral infection.

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He is now back at the Brache though and could make the match-day squad for the trip to north London this weekend, with manager Rob Edwards saying: “He’s better, he’s trained with us this last week as well. There’s a good chance that he’ll be involved, but what I’ve got to be careful as well is not pushing him too hard too soon.

Joe Johnson could be available for the Hatters to face Spurs - pic: Liam SmithJoe Johnson could be available for the Hatters to face Spurs - pic: Liam Smith
Joe Johnson could be available for the Hatters to face Spurs - pic: Liam Smith

"As if you have glandular fever, and a lot of people his age get it, I remember one of my mates having it when we were quite young and it can really knock you about. We as a staff need to make sure we get that right with Joe, but he’s trained with us and is looking better and fitter every day, so we’ll make a call on that tomorrow.”

With Johnson, who was part of the England U17s World Cup squad last year, playing once in the tournament as the Three Lions reached the last 16, he could be part of a subs bench that has had another three academy graduates on it recently, Zack Nelson, Axel Piesold and Dominic Dos Santos Martins all included at Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest due to a crippling injury list for the Hatters.

Although only Nelson has actually got on in a Premier League encounter so far, having the final moments of the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace earlier this month, Edwards will use the youngsters if he feels the time is right, adding: “We’ve got a lot of young players that train with us at the moment, and we’ve got a really good academy, brilliant staff that are producing some really good people and players.

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"Young Zack has made his Premier League debut, Joe Johnson has had involvement with us and I’m sure he would have played a bit of football over the last few weeks, but unfortunately missed it with his illness. What we’ve got to try and do is get the balance right by protecting them, but if we feel like they’re ready, then the next one’s in and I’ve got no problem with exposing them to the games. What we’ve got to be careful with is not jeopardising confidence or their belief by putting people in if we don’t think they’re quite there yet.

"And that won’t be on talent as we’ve got some really talented lads there, but physically the level is just so, so different to what they would be used to. When I see them competing in the training out there, it gives us a lot more belief that, hang on, they will be able to handle this. We’ve got loads of people working with the young lads, Kev Foley’s (transitional coach), whose main role is working with those young players and making sure we’re getting their curriculum right if you like and the balance right between training and playing for the 21s and what they need.

"But at the moment they’re in a situation where they could be needed quicker than we anticipated and sometimes that’s where careers are made aren’t they? Someone takes their chance and anything can happen. There’s loads of top careers and top players who have gone on. I got in because of injury (at Aston Villa) and managed to scrape together a bit of a career, so it can happen, and we’ve got a few who we believe in here.”

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