Luton boss Rob Edwards vowed his side are ready “to do it for Locks” as they prepare to play their first match since captain Tom Lockyer’s on-pitch cardiac arrest at Bournemouth on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Welshman has since been discharged from hospital following a successful procedure to fit an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, and has begun a period of rehabilitation at his home in the wake of the incident, which Luton said was unrelated to a previous collapse in May’s Championship play-off final.
Edwards, who was in tears as he applauded fans following what he confessed was the “scariest moment [he has] ever had in football”, revealed that while he and his men wanted to honour Lockyer, he has also felt cautious in how they approach the aftermath of the deeply upsetting experience.
In a video posted to Luton’s official social media, Edwards said: “[Looking at] how we move forward from this as well, without going into too much detail, it’s not about ‘using it’.
We are thankful to report that our captain Tom Lockyer has now begun a period of rehabilitation from the comfort of his own home after he was discharged from hospital on Wednesday.
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— Luton Town FC (@LutonTown) December 21, 2023
“I’ve been really careful not for anything to seem like we’re using it. It’s about ‘what would Locks want?’. I think that’s the most important thing now, and what does this group of people want? We’re a really tight-knit group, a family, and we’ve got to look after each other now.
“It’s about really coming together even more than we already are. And I do, and we do, want to do it for Locks, but that’s coming from the right place as well. It can’t be selfish, and I’ve been really keen to stress that.”
Lockyer underwent surgery to correct an atrial fibrillation after collapsing during last season’s play-off final at Wembley.
He subsequently returned to action for the start of the new season and had made 15 appearances in all competitions before Saturday’s match, where he collapsed in the 59th minute of the contest.
The Premier League announced on Wednesday that the match will be replayed in full at a later date, while the Hatters are now preparing to host Newcastle on Saturday.
Edwards said he is taking a different approach with each individual, but the team stuck with a plan already in place to take a few days off, while players have been supported internally by club staff and have access to a 24-hour helpline, and the club have also liaised with sport mental health organisation Sporting Chance.
The Luton boss immediately rushed to Lockyer’s aide alongside paramedics and other medical staff who treated the defender on the pitch before he was carried off on a stretcher.
He said: “It was a really scary moment. The scariest moment I think I’ve ever had in football. It was different to Wembley. I knew it then and we certainly know it now after all the tests that have gone on this week.
“We get on with it. The main focus then is Tom and his family, and then we’ll all be affected in slightly different ways, and we’ll deal with it in different ways as well, but I feel good. I have loads of support. Everyone has been asking me how I am as well, which I find difficult as well because I’m not the one going through it.
“I’m fine. I was emotional on Saturday. It scared me, but everyone rallied. The medical guys were incredible, in such a scary, pressurised situation with the world watching them as well.
“They made every decision bang-on. I’m so proud of them. They saved him. They’re real heroes.”