Hatters boss admits Shea has given him a selection poser for Blackburn trip

James Shea claims a loose ball against Leicester last night
James Shea claims a loose ball against Leicester last night

Town chief Graeme Jones admitted that keeper James Shea has given him a selection poser for this weekend's trip to Blackburn Rovers after his display against Leicester City in the Carabao Cup last night.

The ex-AFC Wimbledon and Arsenal stopper pulled off a string of fine saves to prevent the Foxes, who went through as 4-0 winners, from running away with the tie.

Shea was first choice for the Hatters last term as Luton won the League one title, but the arrival of Croatian international and club record signing Simon Sluga has seen his chances limited in the Championship thus far.

However, with Sluga conceding six in his last two games,Town losing to both QPR and Hull City, Jones said of Shea’s performance: “He did really well.

“That’s all you want, someone who’s going to rise to competition and give you a selection to make.

“James has done that, but I think us at Luton need to be really proud of this player, because this player was number one last season here and he’s had to take a back seat.

“The guy has been outstanding. You talk about consistent football behaviour on and off the pitch, he’s just a model professional.

“We need to look after him at Luton Town as he’s been through it with the club, and I’ve got nothing but respect for him.”

On Shea’s ability to come in after not featuring for the first team since August 27 and perform so well against a Premier League side laden with internationals, Jones continued: “His mentality is incredible.

"He’s got technical qualities, he’s a good goalkeeper, but his mentality is just one of those players that’s so even tempered and he’s ready for anything you throw at him.

“I’ve been so impressed with him since I came to the football club and that’s what you want.

“I’ve spoken about contributions many, many times and James contributed tonight and he has contributed as a number two.

“He’s supported Simon and that’s what you want throughout your club.

“That makes you a healthy football club and we need to protect that kind of player, especially with the kind of history he’s got with Luton, so I’m really pleased.”

It wasn’t just Shea who had the opportunity to impress either, as Jones made 10 changes to his side, with Callum McManaman catching the eye in the first period, producing some glorious skill at times.

There were also minutes for Jacob Butterfield, Alan Sheehan, Luke Berry and Lloyd Jones, as Jones added: “I thought Jacob was consistent during the night, I thought Callum did really well for 45, 50 minutes and then tired a little bit, but he gave us something, he’s got that individual quality.

“I know when you get beat 4-0 it doesn’t sound like there’s positives, but we tried one or two things tonight which will help us long term and you have to take your hat off to Leicester City and what they’ve got.

“It was a really, really strong outfit. This is not a level playing field here, they spent £40m on Yuri (Tielemans) alone, but I took some interesting things from tonight.”