Defender Jack Stacey doesn’t see any reason why he can’t be a Championship player next season, by staying with the Hatters.
The 22-year-old right back’s future was under intense transfer speculation during the summer, with Championship side West Bromwich Albion, freshly relegated from the Premier League last term, placing a number of bids.
It was nice to hear of the interest, but I’m fully focused on playing for Luton Town now.Jack Stacey
However, the deal never materialised and Stacey, who was one of many Town players linked with a move away from the club, said: “I think it says a lot about this club that a lot if players did stay despite interest, because people want to stay at this club and get to the Championship with Luton Town rather than join other clubs.
“For me, I was always focused on playing for Luton.
“That was happening above my head between the two clubs. It was nice to hear of the interest, but I’m fully focused on playing for Luton Town now.
“I think there was interest in a lot of our players because of how well we did last season, so it’s just natural, but my focus is on playing for Luton Town.”
When asked if he ever thought his future would be away from Kenilworth Road, Stacey continued: “It was between the two clubs, they didn’t get anything sorted in the end, but for me, I had to focus on playing for Luton Town until I was told otherwise.
“To be fair, the manager was great, he did keep me in the loop, but I’m very happy to stay.”
After missing two pre-season games because of the ongoing scrutiny, Stacey was on the bench for the 1-0 defeat at Portsmouth last weekend.
However, he was back in from the start on Saturday, replacing James Justin, as Luton held Sunderland to a 1-1 draw, saying: “This was my first 90 minutes, so I did feel a little bit off the pace at times, now I’ve got the 90 minutes, I need to kick on for this season.
“I was happy to be back playing in front of the Kenilworth Road crowd.
“Obviously, we’ve got great competition for every place in the squad and I was happy to be back in the squad.
“There’s two players for every position which is great, it keeps competition high, so at the end of the day it’s the managers decision.
“Everyone just has to train to the best of their ability and when they’re on the pitch, to show why they think they should start.”
When asked why he swapped his right backs around, with Justin doing little wrong at Fratton Park, boss Nathan Jones said: “There are tough calls, marginal calls.
“James and Jack battle it out admirably, they’re two young full backs, arguably the best two young full backs in the league and sometimes you’ve got to make calls.
“Jack Stacey was excellent and he’s had a tough little summer as he’s had to come back from something that wasn’t his fault. He’s had to pick himself up, but the kid’s class and he showed it.”
New team-mate Matty Pearson was happy to see Stacey and the rest of the squad remaining at Kenilworth Road during the window, saying: “As players, we don’t really know, people keep it close to their chests, so only personally you know what’s happening.
“We’ve kept most of the squad and it’s good that we’ve done that, we’ve got a great bunch, so now we can gel and get going.”
Stacey was also felt it was critical that apart from Olly Lee, Town didn’t lose any of their players during the close season, adding: “I think that was massive.
“Last year a lot of players came in, but with the aim of playing in League One.
“So we didn’t have to bring too many new faces into the building and everyone was happy to play for Luton and try and challenge this season.”