Hatters defender Naismith relishing the opportunity of facing prolific Norwich hitman Pukki

Recent Town signing believes Luton can get a result at Carrow Road

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 8:47 am
Updated Saturday, 6th March 2021, 9:08 am
Kal Naismith clears the danger against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night
Kal Naismith clears the danger against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night

Luton defender Kal Naismith will relish the opportunity of going up against one of the leading strikers in the division this afternoon when he comes up against Norwich City attacker Teemu Pukki.

The 30-year-old Finland international moved to Carrow Road from Danish club Brondby in July 2018, scoring 28 goals in his first season in the Championship.

He went on to hit 14 goals in the top flight last term including a hat-trick against Newcastle, but didn’t find the net after January as the Canaries were relegated.

Back in the second tier, Pukki has managed 18 goals this season from 30 games, including seven in his last six, although this will be the first time the Hatters have come up against him, the former Celtic and Sevilla frontman missing Town’s two previous 3-1 wins this term due to international duty and injury.

Having kept out a Premier League-standard striker in Glenn Murray during Luton’s 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, then Naismith is ready for another challenge at Carrow Road, saying: “It’s something I’m looking forward to, Pukki is probably the top striker in the league.

“He’s electric, he’s on top of his game, scores for fun, does not need many chances to get a goal, so I’ll relish the opportunity.

“It's what I want as a centre half to come up against the best strikers and it's something I'll really look forward to.”

Although the Canaries are now 10 points clear at the top of the division, having seen off Brentford 1-0 in the week, Naismith believes Town, in fine form themselves with back-to-back victories, including a first win at the City Ground since 1983, can pull off another shock result.

He continued: “Why not? We’re a good side.

“Obviously they’re top of the league for a reason, a top side, dangerous all over the park, but we’ll go there with a gameplan, going there believing in it and let's see how we get on.

“It’s been a great few days, that’s us unbeaten in three now which at Championship level is very, very difficult to do.

“It’s a tough league, you see the fixtures they come thick and fast every three days, it just shows the strength of the squad as three different lads started (against Forest) from the other day and we put on a great performance again.

“It’s such a hard place to come, you see that stat there, 30 years, I never knew that before the game, but I’ve come here before with other teams and it’s such a difficult place to play.

“They've got a great manager (Chris Hughton) who’s got them well organised and it's just a hard place to come.

"So to come away with the three points is a real boost and really rewarding for the lads.

“It’s testament to the squad, everyone played a part but to go three unbeaten just gives us confidence going on to the next one.”

Town’s upturn in results has lifted them up to 13th in the table, 11 points adrift of the top six, and following Rotherham’s win against Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday, now 12 points clear of the drop zone.

However Naismith wasn’t looking over his shoulder going into the final stages of the season, saying: “I don’t even like that word (relegation), we’ve just keep doing what we’re doing and look up.

“Why not? We’re a good side, we’ve got great strength in depth, two players to still come back from injury (Tom Lockyer and Sonny Bradley) which will only make us stronger.

“Let's look up the league, let's stay positive.

"We’ll have weeks where its tough, but remain positive and keep picking up as many points as we can and see how far we can go.”

Naismith only signed in January, but his versatility is starting to emerge as a key factor in Luton’s squad, dropping into the centre of defence following the double injury to Lockyer and Bradley.

He has now played 10 times, starting the last three fixtures, netting a first goal during the 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend, as the Scotsman always knew moving to Kenilworth Road would be the right call having left Wigan in December, adding: “The first two or three days I knew it would be a good fit.

“Speaking to the manager, Chris (Cohen), Mick (Harford), Harty (Paul Hart), everyone, I just knew I would like it.

“The lads have been brilliant, it’s just a good place to go to work.

"I really enjoy working and we’re a good side, we can give anyone a game as you’ve seen.

“I’m delighted to be here and am happy with how it’s started.

"It was good to score too, good to get on the scoresheet too, a good feeling, I was delighted with that."