Peterborough United throw Maddison a first-team lifeline after heart-to-heart with the manager as two stars of the season look set to miss out

Peterborough United manager Steve Evans is preparing to gamble on wantaway winger Marcus Maddison in tomorrow's League One clash with Luton at the ABAX Stadium (August 18, 3pm).

Friday, 17th August 2018, 10:01 am
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 10:08 pm
Marcus Maddison in action for Posh at Potton. Photo: Joe Dent/

Top scoring central midfielder Mark O’Hara and exciting winger Siriki Dembele are both rated as doubtful for a game Posh manager Steve Evans has described as ‘this season’s derby’.

Evans casually dropped Marcus Maddison’s name into his pre-match press conference yesterday and confirmed this morning that the 24 year-old is back training with the first-team squad following a heart-to-heart between the pair.

Maddison has been keen to leave Posh after four years at the club, but summer enquiries from the likes of Championship clubs West Brom and Blackburn Rovers did not lead to acceptable bids. Clubs have until August 31 to make loan signings.

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George Cooper is pushing for a Posh first-team start.

Maddison’s selection would be a gamble as he has made just two 45-minute appearances since the end of last season, one for the club’s youth team and one first-team game at Potton. He’s been largely kept away from the first-team squad while his future was sorted.

Evans said this morning: “Marcus is back with the first-team group after I had a long chat with him about his focus and channelling his energies. I will see how he trains today before making a decision on tomorrow’s squad.

“Siriki and Mark are more likely to miss out than play. We have another game on Tuesday (August 21, at Charlton) and if they don’t play tomorrow they would make that game. In my mind if there’s a doubt you’re out.

“I have players champing at the bit to get a game as well. Louis Reed is a very talented footballer who has barely played a minute so far and the same goes for George Cooper.

Louis Reed (left) could start for Posh against Luton.

“Whoever plays will have to be on top of their game. Luton are a big club for League One level. They are well run right from the very top with an excellent manager in Nathan Jones and a brilliant assistant in Paul Hart who I worked with at Leeds United.

“They have outstanding, voiciferous support, but I’m confident we can match a fantastic club on and off the pitch. It’s pretty much our derby this season as Cambridge, Northampton and MK Dons are in League Two. We will need our fans to give us that 12th-man support.

“I expect Luton to get a top six finish which is what I expect from us so it should be an excellent football match. Every point is hard-earned in this division and we will have to play well to get something from this one.

“The cup defeat at QPR last Tuesday hurt us, but we now have a great chance to channel that hurt into something positive. A positive result and we could be top of the league.”

Posh top scorer Mark O'Hara is a doubt for tomorrow's game with Luton.

Posh are currently joint second after winning their opening League One matches against Bristol Rovers and Rochdale. Luton have so far picked up one point, but they were given a much tougher start with fixtures at Portsmouth and at home to title favourites Sunderland.

First-choice left-back Colin Daniel should return to the starting line-up after missing the QPR defeat. There’s a chance Tyler Denton could push into midfield if Dembele doesn’t make it, although Cooper and Isaac Buckley-Ricketts would also be a contender for that slot.

Callum Cooke and Louis Reed are the main rivals to replace O’Hara. Cooke started the QPR game, but was substituted at half-time. Forwards Matt Godden and Jason Cummings were second-half substitutes in that game, but are expected to start tomorrow with Ivan Toney dropping to the bench.

Luton have sold in excess of 2,000 tickets for their first Football League trip to London Road for 13 years. Visiting fans have been given the Motorpoint Stand and part of the main stand.