Mullins relieved to be back in the picture

Johnny Mullins heads clear against Stevenage
Johnny Mullins heads clear against Stevenage

The frustration was finally over for Hatters defender Johnny Mullins as he made his first league start of the season against Stevenage on Saturday.

The 31-year-old had endured a tough start to the campaign on a personal note, restricted to just 15 minutes of action in the league on the opening day, plus three cup appearances.

It’s been a long time, a really frustrating period, so it was good to be back out there.

Johnny Mullins

However, with Alan Sheehan missing out to be at the birth of his first child, Mullins was drafted in alongside Scott Cuthbert in the centre of defence.

The call came at short notice too, as speaking before Tuesday night’s 4-1 win at Exeter, where the former Oxford player was amost the substitutes once more, he said: “I knew just before I got to the ground, so it wasn’t that long and probably best that way.

“I was driving along thinking I’m sitting on the bench and that’s the way it goes, but congratulations to Sheez and his missus.

“It’s been a long time, a really frustrating period, so it was good to be back out there.

“I came back in pre-season and was fit, although probably wasn’t exactly where I needed to be, being out injured before.

“Then the team has started well, so I was always a little behind, but football’s a funny game. You get injured and you have to bide your time, but I’m back getting fully fit.

“I’m pleased and I just want to continue and keep playing as many games as I can.

“I really enjoyed it and the game being Stevenage, the way it finished made it all the more special really.”

Although disappointed on a personal level, Mullins appreciated there was little he could do to push his case to boss Nathan Jones with Town keeping six clean sheets already this season.

He continued: “At certain times you speak to him, but when the team’s winning and keeping clean sheets, it’s just no point in banging his door down as you know the answer.

“You want to be playing football. I’ve been in the game long enough, I’ve played enough games that I want to be playing football.

But I equally understand when you’re not in the team and the team’s winning, there’s not much you can do.

“That’s part and parcel of it too. We all want to be successful together and the ultimate goal is that we get promoted, so that is what it’s all about.

“When you come in you have to try and play well and when you’re out of the team you have to train well and push yourself forward as much as possible.”

On how he felt his own performance went, Mullins said: “I enjoyed the game, it was nice to get back in there.

“I felt the longer it went on the better I was getting and feel the more I play the better I’ll get.

“It was enjoyable, the team that we’re playing in is an excellent side.

“They were a decent side too, top seven themselves and they’re local-ish, so to beat them like that was a great day.

“I enjoyed it and I want more of that.”

Meanwhile, boss Jones added: “With the squad we have, it means we can bring someone like Johnny Mullins in who has been chomping at the bit.

“He’s been unlucky to be left out, he’s experienced, been at this level, been promoted from this level a number of times, so it shows the strength of the squad.”