• Billy Mulley

Born in Luton Town FC (+10 miles) XI

On one bored Tuesday afternoon, a thought came to me about the number of local players I have seen play against us, making me think about how good a starting XI of local players would be.

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire have both produced some brilliant players in the past, and on the basis of the names below, the two counties have continued to provide England's top two divisions with some excellent talent.

In this article, we take a look at a starting XI that consists of players who were born in Luton or within 10 miles of the town, who are still playing today.

Here, is what I came up with...

In between the sticks is West Brom's David Button. The 32-year-old, who was born in Stevenage, started his youth career with the League Two club before continuing his progression with Spurs. Button did actually embark on a loan spell with The Hatters in 2009, featuring on the bench during our Johnstone's Paint Trophy triumph, but he did not make an appearance.

Our beloved academy graduate features at right-back, and whilst he has flourished on the opposite flank, his future will be on the right-side. Justin was born in Luton and progressed through the ranks at the club, before making his debut in 2016.

Stoke City centre-back Ben Wilmot was born in Stevenage, and like Button, joined the Hertfordshire club's academy. Progressing through the ranks to first-team level, the 21-year-old then joined Watford. A productive spell on loan with Swansea City followed, before being heavily involved with The Hornets during the opening part of the season. Wilmot then joined The Potters this summer for a reported £1.5 million.

Partnering the 21-year-old, Stevenage-born Championship defender is another 21-year-old, Stevenage-born Championship defender. Daniel Ballard, who is currently on loan at Millwall from Arsenal, enjoyed a successful season with Blackpool last time out. The young centre-back has started brilliantly for The Lions this season, and he also features regularly for Northern Ireland.

Huddersfield Town left-back Harry Toffolo edges out Ashley Young in this team, and that is not me being bitter about Young's Watford connections, instead, it is because Toffolo is an exceptional player, who would excel under Nathan Jones. The full-back started his career with Norwich City, before embarking on several EFL loans, before calling Lincoln home. Joining The Terriers in 2020, the 26-year-old has proceeded to shine in Yorkshire.

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Winks plays in a holding role in this team, with the midfielder proving to be one of the most technically gifted players in Tottenham's squad. Born in Hemel Hempstead, the 25-year-old joined Tottenham from an early age, making his first-team debut in 2014. He has struggled to pave his way into regular first-team football recently but is certainly a talented player with the ball at his feet.

Just ahead of him is his Tottenham teammate Oliver Skipp. The 20-year-old, who spent last season on loan with Norwich City, proved to be an integral part of the Norfolk club as they confirmed promotion back to the Premier League. Skipp has played every minute of Tottenham's opening four Premier League matches this season, and he will be hoping to continue that throughout the campaign.

Balancing up the midfield with a player with Arsenal connections is Jack Wilshere. Becoming a free agent in the summer after his Bournemouth departure, there was a feeling of 'if only' amongst some Luton fans. The former Gunner has performed brilliantly on some of the world's biggest stages, and if at the right club, he can still do lots with the rest of his career.

Operating on the right-wing, we have Aston Villa forward Keinan Davis. Born in Stevenage and joining the town's academy in 2014, the 23-year-old joined Biggleswade Town just a year later. Touching down at Villa at the end of 2015, Davis continued his progression within the club's youth set up, before making his professional debut in the FA Cup against Tottenham Hotspur in 2017.

Occupying the opposite wing is Southampton's Nathan Tella. Joining Arsenal's academy system in 2007, the 22-year-old spent 10 years with The Gunners, before joining Southampton in 2017. Making 25 appearances at first-team level for The Saints, Tella has netted twice and has assisted a further two goals since his 2020 debut.

Leading the line in this side is former academy player Cauley Woodrow. The 26-year-old, who was born in Hemel Hempstead, joined Luton's academy in 2008, before departing for Fulham in 2011. After eight years with The Cottagers, he joined Barnsley permanently in 2019, emerging as a key source of goals for The Tykes over the years.

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