Town duo Lockyer and Bradley could be out until the international break

Defensive duo facing a spell on the sidelines

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 2:52 pm
Tom Lockyer might not be back until after the international break
Tom Lockyer might not be back until after the international break

Luton boss Nathan Jones has hinted he could be without defensive duo Sonny Bradley and Tom Lockyer until after the upcoming international break.

The pair had formed a solid centre half partnership in recent weeks, playing 13 games together at the heart of Town’s back-line recently, keeping five clean sheets.

Lockyer then injured his ankle making a challenge in the 2-0 home defeat to Cardiff, with Bradley playing the following two matches, a 3-0 reverse at Stoke City and 1-1 draw with Millwall, before dropping out of the squad with a thigh problem.

Town head to Norwich this weekend, before home games against Rotherham, Swansea and Coventry and a trip to Preston North End ahead of having a free weekend on March 27/28, as how long he expects them to be out, Jones said: “They’re back soon, how quickly we don’t know really.

“We’d like to have them back before the international break but if that’s not possible then it will be after, so we’ve just got to make sure that we’re strong.

“People have stepped up well, Dan Potts has played centrally, we bought (Kal) Naismith in for this exact thing with the versatility that he provides.

“We’re very grateful to the board for doing that one in January, because we felt there’s always possibilities that this would happen.”

Going into a bit more detail on Bradley’s issue, Jones continued: “Sonny picked up an injury in his thigh against Cardiff and just played through it for two games.

"He’s actually not getting any pain, but there’s just something there, so that’s a frustrating thing.

“It’s just about waiting for that to heal because he could probably play pain-free, it’s very strange, but that’s the way some injuries are.

“Tom’s is his ankle and we’re hoping to get him back really soon.”

In their absence, new-look centre half duo Kal Naismith and Matty Pearson kept out Nottingham Forest to earn a 1-0 win at the City Ground on Tuesday night, as they also shut out Sheffield Wednesday in the second half on Saturday, Luton coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

Jones continued: “People step up and opportunity arises when certain things happen and you have to be ready.

"We keep preaching all the time about the environment and the culture here and how players work and to be ready for opportunities and that’s what we do have, so when they do have that opportunity, they grasp it and we’ve had that.

"We don't like going into games not having the option of playing Sonny and Tom, but to keep a clean sheet at the City Ground and I was at the City Ground a year ago when Luton played Nottingham Forest (3-1 defeat) and the performances were totally different.

"I’m really proud of that performance because I thought we were excellent, for an away team at the City Ground, I thought we were excellent.”

The fact that Naismith has been able to step in at centre half furthers show what an important acquisition he was in January transfer window, as Jones added: “We brought Kal here for two positions and one of them is where he’s playing now.

"We needed left-sided centre halves, left-footed ones that can play are very difficult to find, so when he became available you’re always interested in them.

"Martin Cranie is similar as well, they're so vital for a squad.

"You look at one of the best squads in the world in terms of Liverpool, people like a James Milner have versatility and can play in a number of positions.

"We tried to sign him (Naismith) in the summer, but it wasn't possible, so the fact we got him in January, we were very happy.

"He’s still probably now close to getting up to speed because he hasn't played a lot of football in recent weeks."