New Leyton Orient boss Kevin Nolan is enjoying a bright start to his managerial career as he looks to lead the O’s to an instant return to League Two.
The 33-year-old was appointed as player manager on January 21 after Ian Hendon departed Brisbane Road three days earlier, with his side’s once promising campaign beginning to falter badly.
Orient had impressed at the start of the season, winning their first five league games, but a meagre return of just four league victories from their next 22 matches saw Hendon’s time at the club called to a halt.
Nolan started with an immediate success, winning 2-0 at Wycombe and then followed that up by beating Newport 1-0.
There were disappointing home defeats to Cambridge and Northampton, but victories at Portsmouth and Notts County softened those blows, as Orient saw off Crawley Town 2-0 on home soil last time out.
A 2-2 draw at Carlisle in midweek made it five wins from the new manager’s opening eight games, taking 16 points from a possible 24, as they sit seventh in the table.
It’s a position Nolan wants to be in too, as he said: “The ultimate aim is to be among the leading pack as the season progresses and we have no airs and graces about it.
“At the moment we are in and amongst it, which is the main thing. I don’t really look at the table, but as long as we keep winning and focus on ourselves, I will be happy.
“I want to keep it on us and make sure we stick together, we stay as a pack and if we do that I am really confident we can be a successful side.”
Nolan has used his Premier League contacts to bring in Crystal Palace defender Jerome Binnom-Williams on loan, with Nicky Hunt, who played with Nolan at Bolton, also signing from Mansfield for an undisclosed fee.
Chesterfield striker Armand Gnanduillet has also joined, along with Posh defender Shaun Brisley on loan until the end of the campaign too, while both Aron Pollock and Freddie Moncur have gone to Wingate & Finchley for the time being.
Team news: Hatters don’t have any new injury doubts for the clash once more, leaving just Nathan Doyle (knee) and Josh McQuoid (knee) out.
For Orient, Jobi McAnuff and Armand Gnanduillet are both doubts as McAnuff has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, while Gnanduillet was absent from the matchday squad at Carlisle United.
Fellow midfielder Lloyd James continues to step up his recovery from an Achilles injury, but both Dean Cox and Paul McCallum are absent following knee ligament injuries.
Top scorers: Hatters: Cameron McGeehan (12). O’s: Jay Simpson (23).
Man in the middle: Charles Breakspear - yet to officiate Luton this season in a campaign where he has taken 29 games, with plenty of Championship fixtures, showing 120 yellows and three reds, including sending off Fulham’s Richard Stearman last time out against Middlesborough.
Will be his first Luton game since he had the 2-2 draw against York at Kenilworth Road last season, controversially dismissing both Steve McNulty and Jake Hyde on the night, two of the nine reds he produced in 29 games.
Only other Town match for Breakspear was back in the Conference when he refereed the 2-2 draw at Cambridge in 2013, awarding Luton a second half penalty that Solomon Taiwo converted.
Assistant referees are Dean Treleaven and Craig Taylor, with Mark Scholes the fourth official.
In charge: Kevin Nolan - 33-year-old player manager who replaced Ian Hendon as manager during January.
Started his career at Bolton Wanderers, where he came through the ranks in 1997, helping the side quality for the UEFA Cup in his time there, before a £4m move to Newcastle in January 2009.
Joined West Ham in 2011, but left by mutual consent in August 2015, and took over as player-manager at Leyton Orient just under two months ago.
Has made over 550 appearances in his career, netting more than 100 times too, while has picked himself seven times for his new side as well.
View from the opposition: Striker Jay Simpson told the O’s official website: “We go into the game with the win last weekend and a good point at Carlisle and if we can another three points at the weekend it will be a good return from the three games.”
One to watch: Jay Simpson. Who else? Been an incredible season for the 27-year-old striker who joined Orient in July 2014.
After scoring just eight times in 34 games last term, he netted in the opening game of this campaign and hasn’t looked back since, with 23 goals to his name already.
Over a mini-slump as well, as had been without a strike for five games up until he notched in the 2-2 draw at Carlisle on Tuesday night.
Began life at Arsenal, scoring twice in the cup for the Gunners, before spells at Millwall, West Brom, Hull and back at Millwall again until his permanent move to Brisbane Road.
Friendly faces: Orient defeat Connor Essam spent three months on loan at Luton from Gillingham between August 2012 to September 2012, playing nine times.
Moved to Crawley on a free, before spells at Dartford and Dover until he signed for Orient in the summer and has made 25 appearances this season.
Town skipper Scott Cuthbert joined Luton after leaving Orient in the summer, where he spent four years, making over 150 appearances as they reached the League One play-off final during his time there.
Town first team coach Kevin Nugent was with Orient for two spells in his playing career, from 1987-1992 and then 2002-03, playing over 150 times, scoring 35 times for the O’s.
Appointed to the backroom staff in 2007 at Brisbane Road too, staying for nine years until his move to Luton in January.
Played for both: Ahmet Brkovic - Croataian midfielder who joined Orient from HNK Dubrovnik in 1999, where he played over 50 games before being snapped up on a free by Joe Kinnear in 2001.
Spent seven years at Kenilworth Road, where he played 223 times, scoring 38 goals until leaving the club in 2007 to join Millwall, while headed back to his homeland in 2009, finishing his career with Dubrovnik 1919.
We’ve got form: Luton have enjoyed a decent enough return in games against the O’s in all their previous guises as Orient and Clapton Orient too.
With matches starting back in 1906, with a United League clash that Luton lost 2-1, Hatters have gone to the O’s 31 times in total, winning nine, drawing 11 and losing 11, scoring 39 and conceding 41.
Last time out: Luton were beaten 2-1 at Orient in their last trip, a League One visit in 2008.
The O’s moved ahead when former Luton striker Adam Boyd scored for the hosts six minutes before half time after an error by Dean Brill, before Andy Barcham made it 2-0 on 55.
Keith Keane pulled one back for the visitors from close range, but they couldn’t find a leveller.
Hatters: Dean Brill, Alan Goodall (Lewis Emanuel 85), Chris Perry, Keith Keane, Matt Spring, Don Hutchison, Steve Robinson (Dean Morgan 60), David Bell, Darren Currie, Drew Talbot, Calvin Andrew (Paul Furlong 60).
Subs not used: Marlon Beresford, Richard Jackson
Referee: P Armstrong.