What kind of role can Luton Town defender Reece Burke play in the 2023/24 Premier League?
To come on in the 12th minute of the most expensive game in football is no easy task in itself, but when you are filling a Tom Lockyer sized hole the job becomes that much harder.
As throughout the rest of his Luton career however, Reece Burke was unflappable, marshalling the Hatters defence en route to a famous victory and the ultimate reward.
That reward, a crack at the Premier League. Burke penned a brand new deal last week, proving he is well and truly in Rob Edwards’ plans for the future.
Burke celebrates his late winner against Huddersfield | Photo by Gareth Owen
Reece Burke - Can he kick on for Luton Town in the Premier League?
For a player that has been blighted with injuries throughout his time at Luton, Burke has still played an impressive 51 league games in his two campaigns with the Hatters.
Perhaps this is testament to his ability, straight back into the starting lineup after any injury, despite the strong competitions for places in Lutons back three.
His quality has been apparent throughout his time at the Luton, many supporters seeing Burke as the best centre back at the club at the start of last season, although Lockyer probably holds this title now after an magnificent promotion campaign for the Hatters.
Burke is extremely comfortable on the ball, often utilised as the right centre back of a three, bringing the ball out of defence with his dribbling ability and picking out players further forward with his impressive range of passing.
Rob Edwards likes his outside centre backs to be progressive and launch the attacks, whilst also being mobile enough to deal with any pace from the opposition forwards. Burke can often be seen joining the attack, even overlapping the wing back at times, as well as popping up with the odd goal for the Town.
Burke applauds the Hatters fans after scoring in win against Blackburn | Photo by Gareth Owen
With the recent addition of Mads Andersen from Barnsley, the pool of centre backs is only getting stronger and Burke is certainly not guaranteed a spot in the starting XI. For me, he’s in a straight fight with Gabe Osho for a place in the team, with an ability to cover all three centre back positions if injuries occur.
At this moment in time, Burke is slightly better than Osho for me, despite Osho’s redemption story towards the end of last season. In the Premier League, the Hatters defence will be far more exposed than last campaign, and I expect the slightly more experienced Burke to get the nod.
However, all this is subject to whether he can stay fit. Every time Burke has started to build a bit of momentum, and got a run of games for the Hatters, injury has struck for the former West Ham youngster. In total he’s suffered five spells on the sidelines since he joined Luton in the summer of 2021, meaning we’re still yet to see the best of the 26 year old.
If he can get a consistent run of starts next season, I believe Burke can become a solid Premier League centre back, and hit heights that we haven’t seen from him yet in a Luton shirt. Pushed on by added competition for places at the back, Rob Edwards will be hoping that Burke can take his game a level higher, as he comes up against some of the very best attackers in world.
Featured image: Copyright of Gareth Owen/LTFC