Potts out of action, leaving Luton Town with a “fractured back” line
I wrote an article after the game against Reading, which saw Sonny Bradley stretchered off. The article described how threadbare Luton Town were at the back, fortunately Tom Lockyer hadn’t suffered a concussion therefore able to play the next game, and Sonny Bradley’s injury which looked like a season and potential career ender, resulted in a minor fracture on the knee. Then to make matters worse, with three games to go before the World Cup break, Potts fell awkwardly on his back after challenging for a ball against Blackpool, it appeared innocuous and Dan Potts has since confirmed that he suffered a fractured spine. This left us going into the World Cup break with the ever present Tom Lockyer and Gabe Osho as our only fit centre backs.
There are many reasons as to our drop in form since the 1-0 win against a toothless Norwich, which has seen us only winning 1 game in the 6 played, speculation over Nathan Jones’ future which, the team not creating enough in the final third, our strikers not taking their opportunities when presented, but I believe the most significant reason is our makeshift backline. The last game where we played three actual centre backs was the 3-1 victory over QPR, we lined up with Potts, Bradley and Lockyer (with Lansbury in front of them, but that’s a can of worms needing to be opened in another article). Since this game Bree and Bell have stepped in on the right and left sided centre back, respectively, but it’s very much a case of square pegs and round holes and sacrificing what these two players give us further up the pitch. We have also seen Gabe Osho step in at right centre back, but he hasn’t played a lot of football, therefore has been dropped in not fully fit, which has resulted in sub par performances, and not playing the full 90 minutes.
Hopefully Tom Lockyer comes back from the World Cup unscathed, but we need to look at who will accompany Locks at the back when the season resumes, and who may be added when the transfer window opens.
We have 4 games to go before January 1st ; Middlesbrough (a) 10th December, Millwall (h) 18th December, Norwich (h) 26th December and Beale’less QPR (a) 29th December. Which most likely will see a cobbled together backline similar to what we have seen so far. Lockyer in the middle with either Osho and Bree on the right, and Bell on the left. Hopefully Burke will be in contention, but it’s impossible to rely on him to play a string of matches.
Once the window opens, there is a host of centre back options that we could pick up, providing Rob Edwards is backed in January. Rumours have circulated that Luton Town are one of the many championship clubs looking at Lincoln defender Regan Poole, as well as Hibernian centre back Ryan Porteous.
Poole, fits the mould of what we recruit for, he’s got a high ceiling and with lots of eyes on him, his next move is important being 24. In 18 matches Poole has averaged 1.8 interceptions (33 total) and 3.6 clearances per match (65 total), which fits our style of “if in doubt, big channel ball”. Defensively, he is sound, winning 67% of his tackles and blocking 3 shots with only 1 error leading to a goal.
Porteous is a big unit, standing at 188cm. Like Poole he is young (23), and now looking to step into the English pyramid, as his next step is important for his career and international aspirations. He has already told Hibs that he will not be signing a new contract, which has alerted clubs that he can be available for a fee this January, so that Hibs don’t lose him for nominal compensation in the Summer. This season so far, Porteous has played 16 matches, and scored 2 goals. Although there is a vast range in the quality of the Scottish Premier League, Porteous still demonstrates great defensive numbers, having made 57 clearances, 12 interceptions and blocked 7 shots. He has been the standout player in a poor Hibernian season that has seen them ranked 8th out of 12 teams.
If we were to bring in these two players, it would certainly start to mend our fractured back line, and give us options moving forward for the second half of the season. Although, as always I am certain our recruitment team will have alternatives up their sleeve which haven’t made their way into the press.