Harford playing up Southend clash as Town could go top

Hatters interim boss Mick Harford
Hatters interim boss Mick Harford

Luton interim boss Mick Harford will be ratcheting up the importance of tomorrow’s game at Southend for his promotion-chasing Hatters.

Should Town pick up any kind of result at Roots Hall, they will leapfrog long-time leaders Portsmouth, who are in FA Cup action at home to QPR and reach the summit for the first time this season.

Rather than play down the significance of the game, Harford said: “I think we’ve got to play it up.

“It’s a massive challenge, that’s where we want to be and I keep saying if we want to win the league, we’ve got to beat these teams and they’re good teams, good squads.

“They know what’s ahead of them and me repeating that, I’m sure doesn’t have any impact on how they’re going to play or what they’re performances are going to be like.

"I think it’s something they should cherish and embrace and be proud of where they are in the league.”

Life could get even better for the Hatters, as they then entertain Pompey on Tuesday night, with a real chance of pulling away from their south coast rivals.

With third place Sunderland not playing until the following weekend, Town could well establish a healthy lead, albeit with the chasing pack having a number of games in hand.

Harford continued: “There’s a massive incentive at the weekend.

“Obviously we do have to think about Tuesday as well, who we play, who can do the two games in three, four days, so if we win on Saturday, we go top of the league, and there’s no bigger incentive than that, and the players are aware of that.

“They’ll be well prepared, they’re looking forward to a massive challenge on Saturday against what I believe is a really good Southend team, who on their day can beat anyone.

“Chris Powell knows the league, he’s well organised, his teams are very thorough, they’re very attack-minded and also tough to break down.

"So there's big challenges ahead over the next few days, but challenges we all want and we’re going to cherish and nurture them.

"I’m going to embrace the challenge and hopefully we can six points.

“The goal is to perform well and win every game we play in.

"We are a very attack-minded team, we like to go out and win games and if we put in the performances, I always believe the results will come.

"Now where we are on Tuesday night (who knows), hopefully we are (top).”

Although targeting the summit, Harford definitely isn’t taking either side for granted, as he said: “Football is a very peculiar game and something you've got to respect.

"You’ve got to respect the likes of Southend, they’re good teams, good outfits.

"Portsmouth haven’t been at the top of the league all season for nothing, they’re a good squad, they’ve got a really, really good manager (Kenny Jackett) who knows this league inside out.

"So we give both teams the utmost respect and it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

With the visitors expected to be cheered on by 2,300 supporters in Essex tomorrow, Harford added: “As usual, the fans, I always say it, they’ve been great to me, in my career at Luton Town Football Club, so I thank them now before they even get there.

"They’ll get behind the team and they make the job easier for the players in terms of the support they give them.”