Luton Town are lucky to have a match-winner like former Derry City winger Paddy McCourt in their ranks - says their new recruit, Alan Sheehan.
Sheehan watched as the 32-year-old Derry man bagged his first goal for the club against Mansfield at the weekend, producing a starring role after being handed his first start since October by recently appointed boss Nathan Jones.
Sheehan said: “It was a great finish by Paddy McCourt, he’s an unbelievably talented player, a lot better than this division.
“We’re lucky to have a player like him in a team. When I saw the squad and people like Paddy McCourt here, if Luton can get the best out of him, he’s a match-winner.”
Jones had been well aware just what McCourt could bring to the side having worked with him at Brighton last season, and now wants to see those sort of performances on a regular basis.
He said: “We won’t get carried away because Paddy should be doing that week in week out.
He’s an unbelievably talented player, a lot better than this divisionAlan Sheehan
“He’s put in a proper shift as has Pelly (Ruddock Mpanzu), and we’re happy with that.
“We asked that from them, from the wide players, it’s not a luxury position, it’s a grafting position and the two of them put in a proper shift.
“They created one each and scored one each, so good.”
McCourt himself knows there is more to come too, as he he added: “It was an okay performance from myself, I wouldn’t rate it too highly, just okay.
“We managed to get the goal early on and it was a good goal. It was coming in at a bit of pace and sometimes you hit them and they go into the stands, so I was fortunate it went in the bottom corner.
“It was good build up play, a good ball back from Pelly as well, I managed to strike it cleanly and it nestled in the bottom corner so I was delighted with that.
“I put a half decent ball in for Pelly’s goal too, it wasn’t a great ball, but it’s a start now. I’ll get better the more games I play, the fitter, the more match fit I get.”
The supremely talented 32-year-old had been restricted to just seven league starts under previous manager John Still, despite Luton struggling for form in League Two this term.
After a run of three starts in September, where Town won all three matches, McCourt played in the 1-1 draw with Leyton Orient on October 20, before being restricted to a role on the bench.
However, he was back against Mansfield at the weekend, scoring his first Luton goal and setting up Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu for the second too.
On his return to the side, McCourt: “It was great, all players want to play from the start and it’s been disappointing to sit on the sidelines.
“It was very frustrating because we’d just won three or four games in a row, then I came back from an international double header, was on the bench, played in the draw against Leyton Orient and that was it, I didn’t play again. I don’t know why, I didn’t ask the manager and he ended up getting the sack, but it was very disappointing as I felt that although I wasn’t where I wanted to be in terms of performance, I was playing, we were winning games.”
Still left the club before Christmas, with Nathan Jones appointed earlier this month, with the new boss charged with bringing more entertainment to Luton’s fans by chief executive Gary Sweet.
Although he knows it will take time, McCourt is hoping to play his part in what could be an exciting future.
He said: “I think that was the remit he was given when he got the job, but I keep going back to it’s going to take time, as it is. You don’t become a Swansea, a Brighton a Bournemouth in just in a couple weeks, they work hard at what they do every single day.
“Everyone on the pitch knows their job, knows where to be in a certain position and hopefully we can get there as well.
“I don’t think he’s trying to change everything at once, he’s not stupid, he knows it’s going to take time. But you can see the centre halves splitting to get it off the keeper, so he’s trying maybe at the minute to slowly implement his things.
“He’s a coach who wants to play football, ball from the back, get between the lines, bring a wee bit of flair and creativity back to Luton, so hopefully I can play a big part in that.”