»Var­ney ready for birth­day re­union against for­mer club

Gloucestershire Echo - - FRONT PAGE - Jon PALMER

gloslives­[email protected]­plc.com

CHEL­TENHAM Town striker Luke Var­ney has played in all four di­vi­sions dur­ing a 16-year pro­fes­sional ca­reer and he will reach an­other cou­ple of mile­stones on Satur­day.

The visit of his first Foot­ball League club Crewe Alexan­dra co­in­cides with his 37th birth­day and it will also be a year to the day since he signed for the club.

It is fit­ting that he is in his rich­est vein of goalscor­ing form since leav­ing Gresty Road for Charl­ton Ath­letic in May 2007 in a deal worth £2mil­lion.

Hav­ing started last sea­son with­out a club and joined the Robins at the end of Septem­ber 2018, Var­ney has since fired 17 goals in 38 League Two starts.

He was one of the main rea­sons Duff’s team pulled clear of rel­e­ga­tion trou­ble dur­ing the sec­ond half of last sea­son and ended up in the rel­a­tive com­fort of 16th place, thor­oughly de­serv­ing his player of the year awards.

Var­ney added to his to­tal for this term with the opener in Satur­day’s 2-0 vic­tory at Ply­mouth Ar­gyle, ar­guably the club’s most im­pres­sive re­sult since Duff was ap­pointed.

His third goal of the cam­paign was a well-placed header inside the left post af­ter a cross from Sean Long on the right five min­utes be­fore half-time.

By the time Ryan Broom’s de­flected ef­fort made it 2-0 in time added on, Var­ney was al­ready drink­ing a pro­tein shake and think­ing about Crewe.

“I hope Broomy isn’t claim­ing that one, as he’s pulling away from me in our top scor­ers’ list!” Var­ney said.

“It was great to see it go in though as Ply­mouth had been putting us un­der a bit of pres­sure and it rounded off a good week for us af­ter the win at Sal­ford and beat­ing Brad­ford at home.

“It was a happy dress­ing room, as you’d ex­pect.”

Re­flect­ing on 12 months at Chel­tenham, which has seen him ap­pear­ing in the fourth tier for the first time, Var­ney says he has rel­ished the ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­ity given to him by Duff, whose first sign­ing as man­ager was a vastly ex­pe­ri­enced free agent who no­body else wanted af­ter he had left Bur­ton Al­bion.

“I have en­joyed my year here and I am still wheel­ing my­self out most weeks!” Var­ney said.

“The gaffer gives me free­dom and a lot of re­spon­si­bil­ity in the squad and I have en­joyed that side too.

“I keep say­ing that as long as I keep get­ting as many min­utes as pos­si­ble and I feel I can help the team with goals and also bits on and off the pitch, I will carry on, so long may it con­tinue.

“As a team we are meet­ing our tar­gets, but we know we are still a work in progress af­ter fin­ish­ing 16th last year, so we are al­ways try­ing to im­prove.”

Var­ney will have plenty of friends and fam­ily in at­ten­dance for the visit of Crewe, one of only two teams above Chel­tenham in the ta­ble af­ter 10 games.

“It’ll be nice to see a few old faces and I am look­ing for­ward to it,” he said.

“I have a lot of peo­ple com­ing so, if I can get my­self named in the team, hope­fully we can put in a good per­for­mance and get three more points.”

There is no chance of Var­ney be­ing

ex­cluded from Duff’s XI as long as he is fit, but the com­pe­ti­tion in at­tack is hot­ting up.

“Reuben (Reid) is com­ing back and we had Jonte (Smith) com­ing on and do­ing well on Satur­day,” he said.

“Alex (Ad­dai) is mak­ing an im­pact ev­ery time he comes on and Lloydy (Ge­orge Lloyd) is champ­ing at the bit too. So it’s def­i­nitely not just me and Gav (Reilly), we are a unit and we all feel happy for each other when we are do­ing well.

“You can feel that the team unity is bril­liant and that we are all pulling in the right di­rec­tion. Roll on Crewe now.

“It’s a big test against a re­ally good team, who have had a bril­liant start.

“It’s one we are look­ing for­ward to and to be hon­est we started talk­ing about it as soon as the Ply­mouth game ended.”

Luke Var­ney heads home his third goal of tjhe sea­son at Ply­mouth on Satur­day

Pic­ture: Antony Thomp­son/ TWM

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