Midfielder James Dance was thrilled to pull on a Town shirt for the first time in almost 10 months during the 2-0 FA Cup win at Nuneaton on Tuesday night, writes Mike Simmonds.
The 25-year-old hadn’t featured for Hatters since the FA Trophy tie at Hinckley United on January 18, due to a long-standing ankle injury.
He replaced Andre Gray with just seconds left and, despite the full time whistle blowing almost immediately, was still delighted to make his return to the fold.
Dance said: “I wanted to touch the ball, but it’s nice, I’ve been waiting for that moment for a long time now.
“It will be two weeks on Thursday that I’ve been back in full training, and it’s come quicker than expected, with the seven subs in the FA Cup.
“I wanted to play a bit longer, but it wasn’t to be.
“The gaffer spoke to me nearly every day since being back, and he seems pleasantly surprised with how I’ve done in training given how long I’ve been out.
“So hopefully I can keep pestering him to put me on the bench.”
On the game itself, Dance, who had been an unused substitute in the first tie at Kenilworth Road that ended 1-1, said: “We knew it would be different as they had to come and have a bit of a go.
“They sat back in the two games at our place, but I thought we did well.
“There were a lot of positives, we kept a clean sheet and that’s what we were looking for as it’s a completely different ball game when we go away from home.”
Dance received a warm reception from the 471 visiting Luton fans at Liberty Way, and is now switching his attentions to Sunday’s clash with Mansfield.
He said: “I wanted to give them a clap back, but I was concentrating on getting into position and remembering what it was like to be out there.
“We can get a bit of a gap between the pack above us and Mansfield if we win, so I’ll be trying to get on the coach and then on the bench.”
Manager Paul Buckle added: “He needs games and at the moment it’s very difficult to get development games because we are playing Saturday and Tuesday.
“We’ll get some practice games in for James though and we’re very mindful that he’s in the early stages.
“It was more a reward for all his hard work. I love having him around the place though as he’s an inspirational character.”
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