City goalkeeper James Shea takes nothing for granted when it comes to remaining the club’s number one for the break-in of the Championship season.
The 30-year-old is set to keep his place in the team for the last eight games after a serious Achilles injury on deadline day by signing Jed Steer recently.
The Aston Villa loanee, who once joined Simon Sluga from Ludogorets, had taken over from Shea between the posts for three league games, conceding only once but was then stretched in the fifth round clash of the FA Cup with Chelsea.
With Shea out due to a tight hamstring and only Harry Isted available, it was the youngster who came on to play against the Blues, with Alex Palmer arriving on a short-term loan from West Bromwich Albion to feature twice.
As soon as the former Arsenal keeper was back on form, he was back in the squad for the home game with QPR and has held his place ever since.
Speaking of the chance to finish the campaign as a regular starter, especially as the Hatters are with a real cry to make the play-offs, Shea said: “I hope so, but you never know in football. what can happen.
“Like I said before, I’m just going to take one game at a time and see where it takes me.
“I want to play as many games as possible, if I can play the next eight, fantastic, I’ll be thrilled with that.
“It’s really difficult (not to play) because I want to play as many games as possible and you know Jed doesn’t come and sit on the bench.
“It’s like that, it’s not the end of the world, it’s a shame what happened to him, but it gives me another chance to play more games.”
This tenure has been an in-and-out season for the former Arsenal stopper, who had to battle with Sluga and then Steer for a place in the team.
He still managed 16 appearances in all competitions and while it was hard never to really know whether or not he was on manager Nathan Jones’ first-team thoughts, he continued: “Not really if I I’m honest, you just cracked.
“For me, if I play, I play, fantastic, if I don’t play, I keep my head down, I work hard and I try to get back into the team, and whatever will be will be.
“Si was playing very well and now he’s gone to Ludogorets. I had a chance, I played, then Jed came in, he did well, then it’s unfortunate what happened to him.
“Then Harry came in, Harry did well, then Al came in for a few games, so it’s just one of those things.
“Whoever gets called up, you just want them to do well and as long as the team wins, that’s the main thing.”
Despite using five goalkeepers for the first time since the 2002-03 season, the Hatters remain top of the clean sheets table for the second tier, with 16 to their name, as does Sheffield United.
They have also done so with a much-changed defense in recent weeks, with injuries depriving Luton of skipper Sonny Bradley, as well as Gabe Osho, Kal Naismith, Tom Lockyer and Reece Burke at times.
No matter who plays though, the emphasis on getting through a game without being violated is something Shea thinks anyone who plays knows the importance of.
He added: “It’s huge, we know if we keep a clean sheet we’ll score, so if we keep a clean sheet, more than likely we think we’re going to win the game.
“Of the 16 clean sheets, all the goalkeepers have contributed, so it shows that they are a good group.
“Everyone is in the same place where the next man comes in and anyone can come in and that doesn’t weaken the team.
“Even if you look at the five backs against Hull, four of them were full-backs and the other was Fred (Onyedinma) who is a wing forward, but people are ready to do a job for him. team and that’s huge, no one is bigger than the team.
“The boys were brilliant and especially for the two games we had a comeback at five.
“I didn’t feel threatened at all, I felt solid, we didn’t panic, the boys who came and will do a job no matter what.”