Lockyer's Euro hopes not the main concern for Jones as he wants Wales international fit for the Hatters

Town centre half could miss Championships

Friday, 9th April 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 8:04 am
Town defender Tom Lockyer
Town defender Tom Lockyer

Luton boss Nathan Jones admitted his main concern is getting Welsh centre half Tom Lockyer fit for the Hatters’ 2021-22 campaign rather than rushing him back in time to make the European Championships starting in June.

The 26-year-old has won 13 caps for his country and has been a regular member of the Wales squad in recent times under manager Ryan Giggs.

However, the summer signing from Charlton Athletic, who has played 23 times for Town since arriving from the Addicks, hasn't featured since picking up an ankle injury in the 2-0 defeat to Cardiff back in mid-February, with Jones revealing on Saturday he has undergone an operation that will miss the rest of the season.

With Wales beginning their European Championships campaign in just over two months, when they take on Switzerland on June 12, when asked if the defender could be fit in time to play a part, Jones said: “I don’t know, and without being disrespectful as I’m a proud Welshman, that’s not our concern.

“We brought Tom here to be a real stalwart for us and he’s had a bitty season if you like, when he came in, picking up little niggles.

“We had to be careful with him early on and then he’s picked up a couple of injuries and that’s not what we brought him here for.

"So our concern, without being disrespectful, isn’t Wales, it’s about making sure that when we start in August that Tom Lockyer has had a better pre-season than he had last year, a more focused pre-season and he's ready to play for Luton Town.

“That’s the only thing that we’re thinking about and that’s why we’ve done the operation now because otherwise we could have injected it, got him out there, played a couple of games, but we’ve done it now in full knowledge that we want him back for us, not anything else.”

Lockyer’s absence coupled with club captain Sonny Bradley picking up a thigh injury has seen Town’s defence stretched in recent weeks, with Kal Naismith starting alongside Matty Pearson in the centre, while Jordan Clark has had to take up an emergency full back role.

Bradley returned to get 45 minutes against Barnsley in the 2-1 defeat on Easter Monday, as on how he has responded to the game time, Jones added: “A little bit stiff as he hasn’t trained very much, but he came in and we put him in a little bit early the other day because of the necessity was that.

“He just needs to gather a bit of momentum as he’s been out for a little spell.

"It wasn’t an easy game to come into as Barnsley are a very front-footed, energetic, direct team, that put it on you, so he won’t come up against much tougher opposition than that.”