King praises senior pros at Luton as they finally give youth a chance

Hatters keeper Craig King

Hatters keeper Craig King

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Hatters keeper Craig King believes that the club finally possesses an environment for youngsters to thrive in, something that might not have always been the case during his time with the club.

The 19-year-old stopper, who made his first team debut at Kenilworth Road this season, has been on Town’s books since he joined as an U12, before signing a first professional deal in June 2015.

In past years I’ve found it hard because the older pros would make it a bit harder for the younger players, make it a bit tougher physically.

Craig King

Although the teenager praised boss Nathan Jones for having faith in the club’s academy system, becoming one of a number of homegrown players to make their debut since he took over in January, King also believes a lot of credit needs to go to the senior players for making it a level playing field for the youngsters.

He said: “It comes down a lot to the older pros, they make it so easy for us to just go in and train with them.

“In past years I’ve found it hard because the older pros would make it a bit harder for the younger players, make it a bit tougher physically.

“We had, I’m not going to name names, other players that didn’t really give you that chance. You were just a young player, but now we’re all seen as equal.

“That just gives you confidence as a young player to go into a first team session and just play it the way you can play it.

“That’s all down to the older pros, if they weren’t like that you wouldn’t be having performances like this (beating West Brom).

“It’s just so easy for us to go in there fearless and perform the way we can perform.”

King, who has been a regular on the bench as understudy to Christian Walton this season, admitted the closeness between the squad had led to a great spirit forming at the club on a match day.

He continued: “Sometimes the changing room is a bit nuts, and that’s just the way it is, but nothing is too serious.

“Everything is laid back; professional, but everyone just helps each other out.

“You’re going to have arguments, that’s the same everywhere but I would say in our changing room that’s quite minimal. Everyone’s just funny, having a laugh with characters like Pell (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu) making the changing room funny.

“You just go in everyday and enjoy being there. I think that’s the main thing, just enjoying what you do.”

Boss Jones has significantly changed the style of play at the club since taking over, with goalkeepers in particular expected to use their feet a lot more than under previous regimes.

King added: “With the new manager coming in, with the ethos in the way we play is just perfect because you have no choice but to be confident on the ball.

“In past years, as a back four, we used to just smash it as far as we could and get up the pitch.

“But now you’re put in that position where you have to play under pressure.

“You’re just shoved in the deep end and that just brings out the best in people.”