Luton Town defensive line audit - what is needed?
The strong and formidable defence the Hatters have has been key to the success we achieved last season, we conceded the third least goals (42), the third least per match (0.86), and the second most clean sheets in the league (20). However, the Premier League is a different beast, Luton will go from playing against the likes of Keinan Davis and Troy Deeney to Erling Haaland and Mo Salah. Let us review the back line for this season, who is staying, and what needs to be done to improve our defence?
Lockyer and Osho celebrating a goal | Photo copyright of Luton Town/Gareth Owen
Luton Town's current defensive options
Tom Lockyer - In talks for a new deal
Lockyer is technically out of contract but with him leading the Hatters to promotion this deal surely gets done. Locks will relish the challenge of the Premier League, and he might even be made club captain. The Luton players' player of the year and Championship team of the season member will be crucial to our chances of staying up, his contract should be sorted as soon as possible.
Amari'i Bell - In talks for a new deal (reportedly done)
Bell has been outstanding all season, so much so that he might even be assured of a starting place next season. Him being left footed massively helps with our buildup play, and his dribbling out from the back is a key asset in a lot of our attacks. His development as a player since his arrival in 2021 has been very impressive, and it is no surprise the club are looking to reward him with a new contract.
Gabe Osho - had his extension triggered and in talks for a new deal (reportedly done)
Osho has lived every Luton fan's dream this season, two-footing a Watford player and then redeeming himself by scoring in the reverse fixture. Since winter of last season, Osho has become one of our best and most reliable players, so a new contract makes sense, especially since he is only 24. His ability to pass under pressure, and his pace will prove useful against Premier League opposition.
Dan Potts - had his extension triggered
Pottsy has been with the club since the League 2 days, and started a large chunk of the first half of the season, before injuries hit him. Him being left footed is a valuable asset, as well as his experience. We can't imagine him starting too many games next season but he is a valuable player to have around, and he can backup that left centre back role.
Burke was superb when he filled in for Tom Lockyer in the playoff final. The West Ham academy product should be up to the Premier League challenge, although he lost his place to Gabe Osho towards the end of last season. Injury problems have been all too common for the talented centre back, unfortunately. A great player to have in the squad, and he should get plenty of starts next season. At a pinch he can also fill in at right wing back, which could come in useful.
Alfie has enjoyed a superb first season in the orange colours, netting 2 goals and 5 assists. The left wing back role has been locked down by him, and he is someone the FPL players will probably come to enjoy. A backup to provide him with some competition should be signed, as there is a significant drop in quality when he is unavailable.
A great player and person off the pitch, Fred is a very good option to bring off the bench and have him run at tired defences. Him being able to play sufficiently on the right and left sides is also invaluable. As a squad player he will come in very handy.
A summary of Luton's current squad for the 23/24 season
What defensive recruitment could look like at Luton Town this summer?
The defence isn't a problem for Luton quality wise but we should aim to bolster options within the backline anyways. A replacement for Drameh will be needed, Drameh himself would be ideal, but with competition from Burnley and Brentford, this deal looks unlikely. At left wing back, we only have Doughty, as moving Bell back up to left wing back would remove him from his ideal left centre back role. Either two right wing backs or one wing back for each side is needed, since Fred can play on either side. There have been less rumours on the wing back front, with only Drameh being reliably linked to the club, as it would make sense for the club to try extra hard to find a permanent deal for him.
One or two extra centre backs will also be needed. Ideally, a player with vital Premier League experience. We have been loosely linked with Jamaal Lascelles from Newcastle, who would be a superb addition, although that deal is quite ambitious. A left footed centre back to provide competition with Bell, or even start, would be great as well. Jake Cooper from Millwall is someone that it wouldn't be surprising to see Luton consider, as he fits the bill of being left footed, while also being dangerous on set pieces. However, he has not played in the Premier League before.
Let's trust in Mick Harford's recruitment team to bring in the suitable players who are ready for the Premier League. Big Mick was spotted at the Ashes in Birmingham recently, perhaps working on the return of a Marvelous footballer? We can hope. One thing for sure, we have full trust in 2020, Gary Sweet, Mick Harford and everyone at Luton Town who is working so hard to prepare for the biggest season in decades.
By Samuel Roy