Walsall will be continuing their late winter tour of the car manufacturing plants of Britain tomorrow, following last weekâ€™s sojourn at Swindon, as they head down the M1 to Luton.
Luton. What can I say thatâ€™s nice about Luton? Not a lot, really. If you type â€œLuton attractionsâ€ into Google, the first thing you notice is that virtually all of them are outside of the town! At least weâ€™ve got the new Art Gallery and the Arboretum. Still, the airport is OK.
Of course, Iâ€™ve already made myself unpopular with the locals a few years ago when I accused them of playing a long ball game, when they had Howard and Vine up front. The fact that the seemed to think they played some fast, attractive passing game suggests that the town would have been better off making spectacles, rather than Vauxhall cars and Bedford trucks. Thereâ€™s been a lot of water under the bridge since then, however.
Luton are one of the clubs in real financial difficulties. Their short time in the Championship and the small amount of success they had there seems to have been built on paying excessive wages and signing on fees, rather than any sound financial footing, and they have been placed into administration with the ten point deduction. While a consortium led by TV newsreader Nick Owen (a long term supporter) has had a provisional bid accepted to take over, there are still problems and there is a threat of a further fifteen point deduction if the situation isnâ€™t resolved, in the same way as Leeds. Itâ€™s not making that much difference however, as, even if they were given their 10 points back, theyâ€™d still be in the relegation zone, just one place above the bottom four, with the same number of points.
Walsallâ€™s team news is likely to surround two issues. The first is the fitness (or otherwise) of Mark Bradley, following the assault on him at Swindon last week, and the other is whether new signing Stefan Moore will play.
Bradleyâ€™s injury wasnâ€™t as bad as first thought, ending up as a badly bruised ankle, but he is still doubtful. If he is absent, that may well give a chance for Alassane Nâ€™Dour to make his first start, but there are other options. Moore is at the heart of one of those, as he could start up front with Mooney, Betsy move back to the wing and Sonko to central midfield.
Michael Dobson may well be back on the bench, as cover for the centre halves, after an impressive outing for the reserves there in the week.
As for Luton, Steve Robinson is suspended and he was replaced in the last game by Stephen O’Leary, who made his first League start of the season. They had the ancient Paul Furlong also playing in midweek, as he replaced Sam Parkin who was ill.
Dean Morgan, just back from a groin problem, picked up a slight knock in that game as did Drew Talbot. Both will be have to have fitness tests.
Darren Currie (knee), Don Hutchison (leg), Richard Langley (broken leg) and Paul Underwood remain long-term absentees while Paul Peschisolido has been ruled out for the season with an ankle injury (good job we didn’t sign him as many wanted, then).
Iâ€™m still getting these wrong with monotonous regularity, but here goes. Luton go into this one 22nd in the table, thanks to that 10 point deduction, with a mere 25 points. That belies the fact that they arenâ€™t bad at home, however, with 8 wins and 4 draws from 17 games. That, co-incidentally, is exactly the same record as last weekâ€™s opponents, Swindon, from one less game (and shows that at home, they are a far better team than their League position suggests). Iâ€™ll take us to win tomorrow and make the two records identical!