UPDATED: Still hopeful experienced Hatters duo McNulty and Benson should be fit for Chester trip

Braintree Town v Luton Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 46.Braintree Town v Luton Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 46.
Braintree Town v Luton Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 46.
Experienced Hatters duo Steve McNulty and Paul Benson should both be fit to face Chester on Saturday, writes Mark Wood.

Both were forced off with injuries in Tuesday night’s battling 2-1 victory at Braintree Town but, speaking at today’s press conference, boss John Still is confident they will be available for the weekend’s trip to the Deva Stadium.

The likes of Alex Lawless, Shaun Whalley and Anthony Charles, who have all struggled with injury recently, have all trained too, but winger David Martin is out, as is long-term injured target man Jon Shaw.

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On how talismanic defender McNulty was doing, Still said: “Not bad. He had some treatment today, he’ll have some treatment tomorrow when we travel. He wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t terrible the other night, he just felt he couldn’t sort of do himself or the team justice.”

Still admitted it would be a big loss if he wasn’t fit, but felt he had done the right thing in coming off, saying: “He’s a miss. But I don’t think he’s terrible, I’m pretty confident he will be OK.

“I think he just felt he was getting worse and worse and going through his head was a ball going past and him not being able to do (anything about) it, he didn’t want to let the team down, he just felt that was the right time to come off and he was absolutely right.

“He done the right thing to come off and prevent anything longer term. But he’s not bad, we’re quite hopeful.”

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It’s a similar story with six-goal striker Benson, as Still continued: “Similar again, we were touch and go whether he was going to start, but in the end he felt OK. Yesterday he came in for treatment, felt OK, been OK today, not trained today. But once again I think he’ll be OK.”

The general outlook on the injury front was also positive for the Hatters, with nearly all of their major players available apart from Shaw and Martin.

Still said: “It’s about as it was really, nothing new, nothing major.

“Alex Wall’s trained today so he’s probably injured now! He’s trained today, Jon Shaw’s not trained today.

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“Alex Lawless, no problem’s trained, Shaun Whalley no problems has trained, Anthony Charles no problems has trained, that’s not to say they don’t need a bit more training some of them. But probably Macca, Paul Benson and Jon Shaw, Dave Martin, not trained today, but that’s not terrible, probably won’t be ready for the weekend, but he’s not terrible.”

But while Charles is back training, Still is reticent to play him if McNulty isn’t fit enough to face the Seals.

“I don’t think he’s fit enough,” he admitted. “With a gun against our head I think we’d probably play him. But we’ve done that a couple of times with players, brought them back and not quite been fit enough. And it’s not fair on them and it’s not fair on the team. So it’s important really that when people come in you’re giving them every opportunity and chance to be as fit as they should be and they’re not going to reiinjure themselves.”

Instead Still would be likely to look to youth after the heroics of Alex Lacey and Andy Parry helped the Hatters to withstand a late barrage as they triumphed 2-1 at Braintree Town for the first time on Tuesday night.

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Still said: “The two of them, the two young players went in there together and performed admirably. As I said I think after the game, I looked around at the age of the players at the end of the game and it was like the Quality Street Gang, a lot of young ones there who just carried on doing the job.

“I think sometimes with young players you have actually got to push them, you’ve got to put them into situations that sometimes you don’t know how they’re going to respond. And sometimes you put them in and their response isn’t great, well you know it isn’t great so you’re not waiting for something to happen, but unless you put them into that position sometimes you never know and I think it’s important you find out every quality that people have and that’s a quality and I think that you find out a lot about your players in adversity.

“Your older players have been there, done it and understand there is a time and place for that, absolutely, but there’s also a time and a place to push young players.”

And just because he might have an older, more experienced player available, Still revealed he wouldn’t necessarily go with the older head.

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He added: “Not particularly no. If you’re good enough, you’re good enough. I think experience is important. But I wouldn’t pick experience necessarily over ability. If the two best players in a position were 20, and you had an older more experienced 30-year-old, but wasn’t as good as one of the other two, I’m not sure that I would go with it.”

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