Bees’ Mal­tese winger misses Wem­b­ley

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By John Lyons

IF LUKE GAMBIN could turn back time, he’d do it in a heart­beat. Why? Be­cause an in­jury-time red card against Scot­land ear­lier this month has cost the Sut­ton-born winger the chance to play for Malta against Eng­land at Wem­b­ley in two weeks’ time.

Malta were al­ready 5-1 down when the pint-sized Bar­net flier flew into a tackle with Scot­land’s Robert Sn­od­grass and re­ceived the first red card of his ca­reer.

“It wasn’t a ma­li­cious chal­lenge – I’m not that type of player,” he said. “I was caught up in the mo­ment and a bit of frus­tra­tion crept in. It was a mo­ment of mad­ness.


“I didn’t get the ball and I’ve caught him – and the ref­eree was right be­hind me.

“But even their play­ers said they were sur­prised it was a straight red and Sn­od­grass was fine about it after­wards.” As he

trudged off, Gambin wasn’t think­ing about what the red card meant. It was only when he was back in the chang­ing rooms with his team-mates that the con­se­quences of his ac­tions dawned on him.

“Ev­ery­one came in and I re­alised I would miss the op­por­tu­nity to play against Eng­land at Wem­b­ley,” he said.

“There was dis­ap­point­ment be­cause I knew it would have been a great ex­pe­ri­ence. How­ever, it’s not the end of the world. “It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence against Scot­land and I’m look­ing for­ward to the up-and­com­ing games once I’ve served my ban. “I’m also go­ing to do the best I can to get se­lected for the re­turn game with Eng­land. Ev­ery player wants to play in the big games. I hope I can get back in.”

So, how does Gambin think the Malta side with­out him will fare against the coun­try of his birth.

“It will be a dif­fi­cult game,” said the 23-year-old, who qual­i­fies for Malta through his grand­par­ents on his father’s side. “Ev­ery­one knows the qual­ity of Eng­land’s play­ers so ev­ery one of our play­ers has to be on their A game and stay fo­cused.

“Against Scot­land we went a man down, the con­cen­tra­tion started to go and we got pun­ished. We have to stay com­pact and to­gether against Eng­land.” If Malta is Gambin’s jam, then Bar­net is his bread and but­ter. He came through the ranks at the Bees and has played more than

100 league games, though al­most half have come from the bench.

He’s hun­gry to make a big­ger im­pact yet his dis­plays on the flank have al­ready been noted. Ley­ton Ori­ent came in for him in the sum­mer, but he de­cided to re­main at The Hive. One rea­son is that the O’s rep­re­sented a side­ways step – they are also in League Two – and an­other is that Gambin has a gen­uine affin­ity for his cur­rent club.

He said: “I’ve been at Bar­net for six years and en­joyed ev­ery minute. I travel in ev­ery day from Sur­rey and it’s a bril­liant place to be.

“Ori­ent put in a bid and I re­spect­fully de­clined that. I’m happy at Bar­net and with my de­ci­sion to stay. Hope­fully, I can have a good sea­son and play more fre­quently.”


One of the pos­i­tives about life at Bar­net is work­ing un­der mav­er­ick man­ager Martin Allen – and Gambin has an ex­cel­lent rap­port with him. “He was the first one to give me my break,” said Gambin. “I played for the youth team against the first team in an 11-aside prac­tice game and he felt I stood out. We’ve built a re­la­tion­ship since then, and him com­ing back has helped me progress, es­pe­cially as a winger. “Peo­ple say wingers are in­con­sis­tent, but he’s helped me add con­sis­tency and fo­cus in dif­fer­ent parts of my game. He’s a great char­ac­ter, a great man-man­ager and gets the best out of play­ers. “I love work­ing with him and he wants to help you de­velop. As for the team, we’ve had a cou­ple of new faces come in over the sum­mer and we’ve made a good start. We have qual­ity in our squad and hope­fully can push on.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

RED MIST: Luke Gambin’s chal­lenge for Malta, be­low, on Robert Sn­od­grass earned a send­ing off

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