Carter-Vickers proud of Luton heroics
Thu 23 July 2020, 15:48|Tottenham Hotspur
A key part of Luton Town’s great escape in the Championship, on-loan defender Cameron Carter-Vickers admits: “I always thought it was possible.”
Having spent the first half of the season at Stoke City, coincidentally under the management of recently-reappointed Luton boss Nathan Jones, the centre-back arrived at Kenilworth Road at the end of January with the Hatters staring down the barrel, but played a vital role in their remarkable turnaround in form as they secured Championship survival with an incredible late-season renaissance.
Some 10 points adrift in February, they were six points from safety when the action restarted in June but, with Jones back at the helm after leaving Stoke in November, lost just one of their remaining nine games to avoid the drop, culminating in Wednesday’s nail-biting 3-2 final-day victory at home to Blackburn.
Having spent the last three seasons developing his game in the Championship following his initial emergence onto the senior stage with us in 2016/17, the 22-year-old Academy product is thrilled to have a footballing achievement to go alongside his now vast amount of second-tier experience.
“I’ve really enjoyed it at Luton,” he said. “Every club I’ve been to, we’ve had aims and we’ve been trying to achieve something, but when I went to Luton in January we were nine or 10 points adrift and I really went there with the aim of helping them to stay up, so to be able to do that was great.
“To be honest, when I went there, I thought it was possible. Obviously we knew we had to do well but I’d probably say after the first three games after lockdown where we played Preston at home, Swansea away and Leeds away and picked up five points, that put us in good stead for the rest of the season.
“It wasn’t always easy. Obviously we got there in the end but it was difficult – we had to keep chipping away, keep trying to pick up points, whether it was a draw or a win, which is not always easy to do. It’s definitely been a good experience for me. I’ve played a lot of games which has helped me personally, but it was also good to be out there helping the team. It’s a great group of boys there and I feel like they deserve to be in the Championship next season – to be able to go there and help them do that was great.”
There were permutations at both ends of the table as the Championship campaign reached a thrilling crescendo on Wednesday evening, with Luton edging out Blackburn 3-2 to evade the threat of the drop and make sure of a second consecutive season in the division following their promotion last year. Virtually ever-present at the back since his arrival, making 16 appearances and winning plenty of admirers among the Hatters’ faithful, Cameron refused to allow his focus to waver going into such a crucial match.
“I always thought if we could win the game, we’d be alright, so that was our aim going into it – to win and take care of ourselves,” he said. “It was nervy, especially when they scored the second goal to make it 3-2 and we were hanging on for the win at the end, but as a defender you have to keep the ball out of the net – that’s your job – so I’m pleased that we were able to do it in the end.”
A senior USA international, Cameron had played regularly under Jones at Stoke in the opening weeks of the season but fell out of favour in the Potteries following the manager’s departure and returned here to Spurs in January. How coincidental, then, that he should end the campaign celebrating survival with Luton under the same boss.
“I got on with him quite well at Stoke so it wasn’t a bad thing for me personally,” said the defender, whose initial opportunity to join the Bedfordshire club came about largely thanks to the strong links of Mick Harford with our Academy, the Luton legend often seen at our Development Squad’s matches. “It was good in a way, because I didn’t have to get to know a new manager, I knew how Nathan wanted to play and that helped me. I played more or less every game under him at Stoke and playing in that league in the last three years has helped me to develop as a player, not only football-wise but also mentally because it’s tough – you’re playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday a lot of the time – so as well as on the pitch, mentally I feel like it’s helped me to develop a lot. I’m thankful to Luton for the opportunity to play for them and hopefully I’ve played a part in them staying up.”