Still thrilled to have Guttridge, Ruddock Mpanzu and Lawless available again

Luke Guttridge in action against Stotfold - pic: Trevor Cottenden
Luke Guttridge in action against Stotfold - pic: Trevor Cottenden

Hatters boss John Still was delighted that Luke Guttridge, Alex Lawless and Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu are all finally back in first team contention for this weekend’s League Two clash with Cambridge United.

The trio have played just 21 minutes together so far this season, that in the 1-0 defeat against Plymouth Argyle back in September, as Still said: “It’s a massive boost. We’ve done unbelievably without them, but they’re not just three good players, they’re three influential players and the influential part of their game is really important.

“They are all available for selection. The chances of them all playing are nil, the chances of them all being involved, that’s a lot higher, but it’s important that now they’re back, we do it properly.

“We’ve managed without them for this long and if we are sensible enough about it, we’ll get fully fit, flourishing, energetic players back because they’re not going to be tired.”

Guttridge had his first 90 minutes since the 4-2 FA Cup win over Newport on November 8 during Tuesday night’s 5-0 victory against Stotfold in the Beds Senior Cup.

Still, who had been a spectator at Roker Park, continued: “With Luke, his enthusiasm is fantastic and he played in a development game on a really, really difficult surface.

“He played with energy and that’s good to see. He hasn’t gone on there and walked around and taken it easy, he’s put himself about so that was very pleasing.”

Lawless got his first taste of first team action for almost three months when he came on during the second half against Cheltenham last weekend.

Neither he or Ruddock Mpanzu, who has missed Luton’s last eight leauge games, were risked against Stotfold though due to Still’s concerns over the playing surface.

The boss said: “He’s (Lawless) fine. He got a little bit of the game on Saturday, has trained this week, but didn’t play the reserve game because the conditions weren’t great and we felt it better that he trained as we could control that a bit better.

“Pelly Ruddock was in the same mode. Conditions weren’t great at Stotfold, so they’re both people that want to run with the ball and we thought no, not there.

“It’s different for Luke who’s going to get it and pass it. So we went with him, but Alex has trained all week and been absolutely fine.”

The boss is hopeful that the trio will bolster Town’s firepower, as they have managed just four goals in the last five league matches.

He said: “Our consistency from last season has followed on this season. We don’t concede many, we don’t get beat often, the only thing that we haven’t done consistently this year is score goals.

“Would we be scoring more consistently if the players that have been out hadn’t been out? We’ll never know, but when they come back, we’ll find out.”

Meanwhile, there was further good news on striker Paul Benson, who is making a quick recovery from his broken leg suffered in the 3-0 win over Mansfield on November 29.

Still said: “He’s coming on terrific. There was a bit of inflammation in his foot which you get when you have an injury like that, so he had an injection in that.

“I would think he’ll be back in training Monday and I don’t think he’ll be too far away with joining in with the group as well, so that’s another positive.”

Only striker Ricky Miller is a doubt for this weekend as Still added: “He’s had a problem with his toe, so he didn’t feature in the reserve game. He hasn’t trained this week, but I don’t think that will last long.”