Arsenal vs Luton: Hatters without up to 13 players for Gunners challenge, says Rob Edwards

Luton boss Rob Edwards has laid bare the sorry extent of the club’s worsening injury crisis that could see them without as many as 13 players for a tough midweek trip to Arsenal.

The Hatters have so far defied extremely gloomy pre-season expectations as they battle hard to avoid relegation in their maiden Premier League campaign, currently occupying the final slot in the drop zone as the result of an inferior goal difference compared to Nottingham Forest, who have launched an appeal against their recent four-point deduction for breaching the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.

Luton are still well in the fight to retain their top-flight status with eight games left to play this term, though Saturday’s agonising late defeat at Tottenham - the third game in a row they have lost when leading at half-time - means they have now failed to win any of their last 10 matches across all competitions since the shock 4-0 home drubbing of Brighton in January.

Goals have not been an issue for Luton having scored in 18 games in succession now, with their total tally for the season of 43 bettered in the bottom half only by Chelsea and Fulham. However, their 62 conceded is third-worst behind relegation rivals Burnley and Sheffield United, with an ongoing injury crisis certainly not helping matters as they face difficult trips to the likes of title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City in the crucial weeks ahead.

Injury crisis: Rob Edwards will take a heavily-depleted Luton squad to face title-chasing Arsenal (Getty Images)
Injury crisis: Rob Edwards will take a heavily-depleted Luton squad to face title-chasing Arsenal (Getty Images)

Speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s visit to the Emirates Stadium, Edwards revealed that Luton’s absentee list would stretch into double figures as at least a handful of teenage hopefuls prepare to be promoted into the matchday squad.

"We're likely to have 11, 12 or 13 players out," Edwards said at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference. "We'll probably have four teenagers on the bench - maybe more.

"This is the biggest challenge we've ever had. Of course we had the incident with Locks [captain Tom Lockyer, whose football future remains undecided after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch against Bournemouth in December], but in terms of facing the best teams in the world in this period of injuries, it is.

"But we're competing and it's a challenge. It'll be a big challenge. We know it is a massive task, we're aware of the size of it.

"Arsenal are in great form and we're going to have to defend really well.

"But, depleted as we are, it's hard for us to be at our best when we're missing so many players."

Lockyer remains out for Luton, while Amari'i Bell, Marvelous Nakamba, Elijah Adebayo, Dan Potts, Mads Andersen, Chiedozie Ogbene, Gabriel Osho and Jacob Brown are also sidelined, with the likes of Alfie Doughty, Tahith Chong and Reece Burke all struggling.

Arsenal loanee Albert Sambi Lokonga is also currently injured, though he would have been ineligible to face his parent club on Wednesday night anyway.

Teenagers Joe Johnson, Zack Nelson and Axel Piesold were all on the bench against Tottenham, with Dominic Dos Santos Martins also involved over recent weeks.