Still would have no qualms about leaving McNulty out

Steve McNulty
Steve McNulty

Hatters boss John Still would have no hesitation in leaving captain Steve McNulty on the bench once more if he feels it is the right call against Portsmouth this weekend.

The skipper was an unused substitute during Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup penalty shoot out loss to Stoke City, as he witnessed the centre half pairing of Scott Cuthbert and Luke Wilkinson excel in his absence, holding their Premier League opponents to a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.

“Not playing players, it doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t give me satisfaction, because that is the job.”

John Still

When asked if McNulty, who has started every league game so far this season, could miss out, Still said: “Yes, I made how many changes for the first cup game and the second one as well, it’s about looking at combinations.

“I was very, very impressed with those two (Cuthbert and Wilkinson), just as impressed as I was really with the three centre halves against Bristol City, I thought they fantastic together.

“The back four were top drawer. It was Steve O’Donnell’s best game, he’s just settling into it and getting into it, Scott Griffiths’ best game, the back four were top drawer and the goalkeeper too.

“When good players that have worked hard, it’s never easy not playing them, it’s difficult. But that’s the job, you have to do this job without fear or favour.

“When I first started managing, when I was 28, I left my mate out for the first game. Not playing players, it doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t give me satisfaction, because that is the job to do the best you can for the team.

“Unfortunately that’s how it is and with the squad being stronger this year, that’s going to be the case with more disappointed, but disappointment makes the weak weaker and the strong stronger.”

McNulty has been first choice since joining Luton in January 2013, making 118 appearances in that time, but Still specifically strengthened his defensive options during the summer, so was ready to be in this position.

He added: “I didn’t want to be weaker, I want the competition to be really strong.

“For all players, if they don’t play and the team puts a good performance in, it’s going to do one of two things. It’s going to spur them, or going to make them a bit lower.

“Nobody got dropped for the Bristol City game and no-one got dropped for game the other night, I pick players to look at combinations and used the two cup games to do that.”

Whoever Still opts to go for, it won’t be a decision he takes lightly, adding: “People say it’s easy to pick a team, but it takes me two days to start formulating a team.

“When you’re a supporter it can take you two minutes, but they don’t see anything you do in training, they don’t see how someone’s trained, how someone’s doing, if someone’s fit enough or up to speed.

“In the cup, we played a Championship club and beat them, and we played a Premiership club for 120 minutes and drew.

“Well that’s fantastic at any level and to think in those games we conceded one goal and one goal. That’s great credit to everybody, everyone who’s played in those games, it give me a bit of choice.

“When I come to pick a team, I’ll lean on what we did the other night, absolutely I will. I’ll also lean on the last couple of league games, and I’ll decide from that what I think is the best way to go.

“It might not be someone else’s best way, but it will be my best way.”