How has the Luton Town and Nottingham Forest loan agreement worked out?
With half of the Championship season played, Ethan Horvath has played out half of his spell at Kenilworth Road. Looking back before the US international flew off to the World Cup, Horvath was majorly important to the Luton squad and it would be a major disappointment if he was to be recalled come the end of the season.
After coming in on loan this summer to fill the void in the Luton net, Ethan Horvath has become a key member of the Hatters' success this season. Last time out, the Hatters had six different shot-stoppers and it became an apparent problem that they needed to bring in a number one to stop the constant changes. Starting off the 21/22 season with the previous player of the season Simon Sluga, he eventually fell out of choice due to the excellent form that James Shea showed after being given an opportunity. Sluga went back abroad and Jed Steer was brought in as his replacement. Steer immediately replaced Shea as number one as Shea was injured and he appeared to be a perfect fit.
Unfortunately for Steer, a few weeks later, he picked up a long-term injury just ten minutes into a huge FA Cup tie against former European Champions Chelsea. Coming on in his place in that game was Harry Isted, the young keeper who has been Luton's third choice for many years. Although Isted had an incredible game, he wasn't started in the next match as Luton were forced into making an emergency transfer due to the keeper injury crisis. Alex Palmer played for two games after West Brom allowed him to join on loan, he even picked up an assist. After returning, James Shea got injured yet again. Luton then brought in Matt Ingram on another emergency loan from Hull City who filled the position till the end of the season.
Luton fans backed Ingram and expected the Hull City man to become the new permanent number one, however, Hull renewed his contract and have played him since. In the summer window, Luton were able to find a suitable replacement, which is where Ethan Horvath comes into play. After being promoted to the Premier League, Nottingham Forest brought in former Manchester United and Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson. This transfer left Horvath as third choice so they allowed him to go out on loan. Horvath joined on the 2nd of July on a season-long loan.
This season Horvath has started 24 out of 25 of Luton's league games, in those games he has managed a total of nine clean sheets, which is the fourth-best record of any goalie in the league. He also has one of the lowest conceded goals per game with an average of 1.0 a game. Horvath makes an average of 2.0 big saves a game. Standing at 6'4 Horvaths' height and presence in the air is one of his strong points and an attribute Luton have missed with previous keepers. Along with that his commanding and excellent shot-stopping have contributed to him becoming one of the best keepers in the league.
The American international has kept the Hatters in the game with some of his important stops, one of his most notable games of the season was against Blackpool when the Hatters came out 1-0 winners. Horvath made a total of 6 saves, 5 of those shots coming inside his own box. Horvath helped to command his backline to one of the most impressive Luton defensive displays this season, the Hatters made 42 clearances in the tie and Tom Lockyer was voted man of the match after his two goal-line clearances and important blocks. Without Lockyer and Horvath's leadership and defensive resilience that day, the deadlock would've been broken.
Returning from the World Cup, Horvath was met with a new head coach in Rob Edwards, and he has continued as number one under the new manager repaying him with a clean sheet and a performance that went under the radar as Luton beat QPR 3-0. In that game, the focus was on Alfie Doughty and Carlton Morris as they put on impressive displays to end Luton's streak of no wins away to QPR since 1984. However, the win may have not been possible without Horvath's first-half saves.
Both Rob Edwards and Luton fans will hope Horvath can continue his great form until the end of the season as he has quickly become a fan favourite. Although Horvath's future at Luton isn't certain and could totally depend on whether Nottingham Forest manages to survive the drop from the Premier League or not.
If Forest are to drop it is likely that their number one Henderson will depart as he will feel he is good enough to remain as a Premier League keeper. That would leave Forest with Wayne Hennessey who is pushing on 36 years old. The other two keepers in their roster are either young or too inexperienced meaning Forest would most likely keep Horvath for themselves.
But if Forest are to stay up it could be that they sell Horvath for funds to ensure they can stay up the following season. Whether they sell him to Luton is another question as they may expect a higher fee than Luton are willing to pay. Despite the worries, Horvath still has till the end of the season with the Hatters to continue his fine form.