Rea relieved his journey back to the Hatters first team is finally complete

Hatters midfielder Glen Rea was back in the Luton side on Sunday
Hatters midfielder Glen Rea was back in the Luton side on Sunday

Midfielder Glen Rea could take a crumb of comfort from Sunday’s 11th successive away defeat for the Hatters, as he made his long-awaited return to the starting line-up for a league match.

Rea suffered knee ligament damage back in December 2018, during Town’s League One clash with Burton Albion.

He could only watch as Town went on to win promotion to the Championship, before returning to training and spending a month on loan at National League side Woking recently.

The 25-year-old came back into Town’s squad and was on the bench for the trip to Stoke City in December, coming on for second period, although struggled to get the pace of the game, dispossessed for the hosts’ third goal.

However, Rea had 90 minutes in the FA Cup third round defeat at Bournemouth earlier this month and was back in from the start at the City Ground on Saturday.

Speaking after Luton had been beaten 3-1, he said: “On a personal note it was good to be back, but we’re all gutted in there.

“It’s been a very long time, it’s been a journey, but it was excellent to be back out there.

“I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back in, get my chance and hopefully I can continue.

“I feel fit, I feel ready, I’m ready to play and I thought I did all right.”

Manager Graeme Jones, who hadn’t be able to use Rea for the first few months of his tenure due to the injury, was impressed by the former Brighton man’s performance.

He said: “I’m delighted, but I’ve made him work for it, because Glen wanted to play in November.

“We gave him a go at Stoke and he wasn’t quite ready, but he hasn’t got disappointed.

“He played at Bournemouth, played against the Chinese Super League team in midweek too.

“Glen’s a real specialist defensive midfield player and I think he gave us a bit of resistance, resilience, understanding.

“I’m delighted just to have him available going forward.”

Luton had taken the lead at Forest on Sunday, Harry Cornick netting a seventh of the season after a high quality team move.

They then conceded either side of half time to Joe Lolley’s double, with Lewis Grabban’s penalty making it 3-1 late on.

Rea didn’t feel it was a fair reflection of Town’s efforts on the day, adding: “It was never a three goal against game.

“I don’t think anyone in here could say they deserved to score three goals.

“They’re a good team, don’t get me wrong, they’re a very good team, but we came here and first half I felt like we were right in the game.

“Even second half, it was two bits of magic from their lad.

“I thought first half we were very good, he (Cornick) gets his goal and I thought we did well.

“Maybe we just cut those goals (conceded) out and it’s a positive performance.

“We know that three goals again is not good enough, so we’re all gutted in there, but we’ll just be positive and we’ll be all right.”