Sheffield United: Warning issued about the "great player" in Luton Town's ranks

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Eight years ago, when Chris Basham made his debut for Sheffield United during a home game against Bristol City, the performance of one of the visiting midfielders impressed him greatly.
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Little did he know that the player in question would go on to become a team mate, completing his own transfer to South Yorkshire five seasons later following a spell with Queens Park Rangers.

But even though Luke Freeman endured a difficult time at Bramall Lane, something which clearly still grates given his comments during the interviews which followed a switch to Luton Town last month, Basham rates his former colleague highly.

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So, as United prepare for tomorrow’s trip to Kenilworth Road, the defender is warning Paul Heckingbottom’s side to expect the best from Freeman as he attempts to make them pay for letting him go.

“Luke is a great player, and I actually played my first game for us against him,” Basham said, reflecting on a match which saw goals from Aaron Wilbraham and Wade Elliott cancel out Michael Higdon’s opener for the hosts. “He’s always tough to come up against and I remember thinking he put in a really good performance that day. Things didn’t really work out for him here, okay. But that doesn’t mean to say he isn’t really good. Because he is.”

Freeman made only 24 appearances for United after joining them soon after their promotion from the Championship under Heckingbottom’s predecessor Chris Wilder. Performances, with United going on to finish ninth in the Premier League, tactics and a misdiagnosed injury all hampered his progress before he was released earlier this summer following spells on loan at Nottingham Forest and Millwall.

Luke Freeman on a rare outing for Sheffield United: Andrew Yates / SportimageLuke Freeman on a rare outing for Sheffield United: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Luke Freeman on a rare outing for Sheffield United: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

“It was like a hernia, a groin injury, so I had one of those that was supposed to be a quick turnaround,” Freeman told a newspaper in Bedfordshire soon after his move to Luton. “Before I knew it, I thought I was fit but I still had loads of problems in that particular area.

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“It was going on for probably six months, I kept being told I was fine, which I wasn’t, and then finally…they realised it was completely wrong down there.”

Now fully recovered, Freeman has featured in all of his new club’s league outings this term.

Sheffield United defender Chris Basham: Simon Bellis / SportimageSheffield United defender Chris Basham: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Sheffield United defender Chris Basham: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Nathan Jones’ men will enter the contest in 18th, after winning only one of those. But, speaking at the Randox Health Academy on Wednesday afternoon, Heckingbottom acknowledged Luton’s recent performances suggest they are close to recapturing the form which saw them join United in the play-offs last season.

Heckingbottom’s squad are top, having beaten Millwall, Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers and drawn with Middlesbrough after losing to Watford during the opening round of games.

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“It’s always tough when you join a team that’s just been promoted,” Basham said, suggesting Freeman was a victim of circumstance at United. “It’s a brave move in a way because that group has just put a real marker down and shown what they can do. It’s not one that’s going to get broken up easily. He’ll be well up for this one, definitely.”