Gambin not harming his Hatters career with Maltese call-ups

Luke Gambin on the ball against Newport
Luke Gambin on the ball against Newport

Hatters midfielder Luke Gambin’s repeated international call-ups for Malta aren’t harming his career at Kenilworth Road according to boss Nathan Jones.

The 24-year-old has only just earned a place in the first team, starting the last three games, before being called up to the Maltese squad once more for the World Cup qualifiers at home to Lithuania this evening and in Slovakia on Sunday.

I wouldn’t say it’s harming his Luton career as he’s not going backwards here, he’s going forwards.

Nathan Jones

It means he misses Luton’s trip to Accrington Stanley this weekend, with others now given the chance to impress in his absence.

However, when asked if it was affecting his Town stint, Jones said: “I wouldn’t like to say that as we’re proud of our internationals, but it’s not ideal when he’s just about finding his feet and then he goes away.

“It’s frustrating that he hasn’t played at all really, very limited time in the two games during the last international break.

“Obviously they did play against two very good British sides, but it will be frustrating for him as he would fall behind in terms of others having the chance to stake their claims in games and he goes away and sits on the bench.

“So I wouldn’t say it’s harming his Luton career as he’s not going backwards here, he’s going forwards and we’re very proud of him.

“But personally, I’ll be happy when the international breaks and fixtures are behind us for the winter.”

Gambin didn’t get much a look-in when last away with Malta, sitting out the entire game with England and then winning his 10th cap in the 2-1 defeat to Scotland, although only playing the final 19 minutes.

He admitted: “I can’t stress enough that football is like that, it’s frustrating and I’ve had to learn.

“Not playing at your club is going to hinder playing for Malta national team, but I’m happy that they believe in me.

“I go out there, obviously I wasn’t playing here, but they still believe that I can still get that call up and do well.

“Hopefully I’ll be in the mix for starting the next two qualifiers.

“They want players that are fit and playing games constantly.

“I always feel fit and ready to play, no matter what and I stress that to the Maltese national coach,

“But you’ve got players that have played six or seven games who are going to go in there and no disrespect to Malta but it’s a lot of defending and you’ve got to save your legs.

“So I was happy to come on in the last couple of games and try to open things up, create chances, but I’m hoping to carry this on and try to get some games out there.

“The coach asked the questions why a player of my quality, why I’m not playing here?

“I just said it’s down to, we’ve got a lot of good players and I’ve got to wait for my chance.

“I always do try and do everything right, train well and do everything I can that I’m in control of, trying to push to be in the gaffers plans, that’s all I’m in control of.”

Meanwhile, on Gambin’s impact since returning to the starting line-up recently, Jones added: “I’m more pleased for him as he’s been very patient, and the reason I keep reiterating it is he has to see some faith from me.

“We took him, we literally could have waited six months and got him for free, but the board were strong and they backed me.

“As I said if we get him in our environment for four and a half months, he might not play as much, but he’ll have four and a half months of education.

“So what we did is we paid the money to do that, so we could get him early and we didn’t go into the merry-go-round of an auction in the summer.

“He bought into that Luke, understood what we were trying to do and then now hopefully we’re going to see the best of him.

“He’s been wonderful, really energetic and has a real quality about him.

“He is turning into the player I believed that he could as when he played for Barnet.

“Centrally he can get it on it more, able to create, his ball retention is very good, he’s made for us really, so it’s very, very good.

“I’m pleased for his attitude and his application day in day out as he deserves that, but that’s what you have to do when you’re a good pro.”