Town chief proud of midfielder Tunnicliffe for not taking the 'easy option' and fighting for his Luton place
Former Manchester United youngster has started the last three games, scoring twice
Luton midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe deserves huge credit for not taking the easy option to leave Luton, but instead stay and fight for a starting berth according to boss Nathan Jones
The 28-year-old only begun four of Town’s first 30 Championship games this term, before earning a shot in the side for the 1-1 draw with Millwall last Tuesday night.
He kept his place for the next game against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, scoring a first goal of the season to make it 2-2 in the second half, Luton going on to win 3-2.
Tunnicliffe then began again in midweek at Nottingham Forest, the first time has he played three successive games since the crossover period from lockdown last year, and bagged what turned out to be the only goal of the game just after the hour mark.
The former Manchester United has stated he never wanted to leave the club and when asked how much credit he deserved for fighting for his place in the Championship, Jones said: “Absolutely massive, I’m really proud of Ryan and I’ve told him that.
"I messaged him the other night, I told him after the game, I’m really proud and not just because of his goals.
"When I first came in, he’s a strong character in terms of certain ways and so on, he had to be patient.
"I tried to be fair to him in the summer, but he wanted to stay, he wants to do well and it’s proved a great decision.
"He’s in wonderful form, he’s trained really well, he’s a big part of something with the character he’s shown, and I’m really proud of him because a lot of players would have taken the easy option, but he hasn’t, he’s stuck at it, and he’s been wonderful.
"We really like him actually, it’s been harsh on him because we’ve had some midfield players in real good form and when we play, Pelly (Mpanzu) and Kiernan (Dewsbury-Hall) have been in real good form in attacking, and Luke Berry as well has really contributed.
"It’s just been a bit tough on him, and since he’s come back in he’s been fantastic, and he deserves more credit than anybody for that.”
As he had done on Saturday, Tunnicliffe broke into the box with real purpose at the City Ground, getting on the end of Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's wonderful cross to volley at full stretch beyond keeper Brice Samba for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Jones stated it was an area of his game that was always apparent, adding: "We do encourage them all to do that, and we work on that.
"He has that a little bit naturally, he does that anyway, as when I was at Brighton he was at Blackburn and he played as a number 10, a running 10, so we know he can do that.
"He’s done fantastically well and he’s earned his place, he’s earned the performances by the work he does.
"That’s what we ask of everyone, because some people get really really frustrated when they aren’t playing and it can go one of two ways.
"We have said that everyone will play and everyone will play a part, that was the case at the end of last season, and it’s been the case this year.
"Everyone has had opportunities, there’s no-one really that hasn’t had opportunities.
"There are one or two now who are drifting, who we need to bring back in and refocus, but everyone will really have a contribution to make between now and the end of the season.”