Relief for Jones as Gambin makes Malta start

Hatters midfielder Luke Gambin started for Malta last night
Hatters midfielder Luke Gambin started for Malta last night

Luton Town midfielder Luke Gambin played 85 minutes for Malta last night as his side earned a 1-1 draw at home to Lithuania in their World Cup qualifier.

The result was Malta's first point of their Group F campaign, ending a run of eight straight defeats, while Andrei Agius's 23rd minute strike was the country's third goal.

Vykintas Slivka levelled early in the second half, although Gambin himself came close to a winner, shooting narrowly wide on 65 minutes, as he was replaced by Clyde Borg with five to go.

After only playing 16 minutes in his last trip away with the Malta squad, the ex-Barnet man's inclusion will no doubt please Town boss Nathan Jones, who speaking before the game, had said: "We want them to be fruitful trips away for. We’re very proud of our internationals and he’ll be proud being a Maltese international, he’ll want to represent his country.

"But if he’s going there all the time and not playing, being a bit part player, then it’s hurting his career here, that’s what we don't want to happen.

"If he goes and he plays and he’s playing, we’ll be proud of Luke and we’ll bite the bullet on that.

"We’ve had James Justin in the England U20s and me and Keith Downing liaise very much and we felt it would be better this time if he stayed with us, got a game which he did the other day and be back involved with us, rather than go away with the England set-up.

"He'd get the prestige of being involved with the U20s, but we felt for his overall progression and to get him back to the level, to keep him here instead and that was sensible.

"Obviously you can’t quite have that relationship with the Maltese manager as he wants to win football matches so if Luke's going to play and going to be a big part of that then we’re delighted for him.

"If he’s going to come on for three or four minutes at the end of the game, then we get frustrated by that."

Gambin, who had started Luton's last three league matches, will now miss tomorrow's visit to Accrington as Malta finish their campaign away in Slovakia.