Luton Town manager Richard Money said he is disappointed that he won't be able to watch Andy Drury play anymore after the midfielder became an Ipswich Town player for an undisclosed fee today (Monday).
The Hatters signed the 27-year-old from Stevenage for free in the summer and he went on to score eight goals in 26 games in his short spell for the Conference club.
Drury passed a medical and trained with the Championship outfit today and at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow's league visit of Darlington, the Luton boss said: “The most disaspointing thing for me, and I guess a lot of people is that I really enjoyed watching him play.
“I think everyone connected with the management group and the players themselves deserve a huge amount of credit because we’ve taken a boy who, had never played any higher than non-league, and wasn’t even a regular in Stevenage’s team last year, and we’ve put him on a stage and he’s been absolutely outstanding.
“Progress is what it is. You cannot, unfortunately stand in the way of people.
“Andy said to me that if it hadn’t have been a Championship club of Ipswich’s stature then he would have stayed.
“We’ve tried really hard to give him an improved contract but that’s life, we move on and, who knows, we might get him back on loan one day."
Money said that the interest in Drury has put the spotlight on Luton as a club that produces quality players - and that has meant the club have had a battle to keep their current squad at Kenilworth Road.
“We’ve fought extremely hard to keep this squad together in this window," he said. "We fought extremely hard to keep Drury in the group, but you can’t deny him the opportunity to go at play at that stage when he’s never been there.
“I’m not going to say he goes with our blessing but I wish him well and let’s all just thank him for the quality and entertainment he’s given us in six months."
The Town supremo said that some of the signings he has made this season have been based on the thought that clubs would come calling for some of his stars in this January transger windwow.
“We signed him [Drury] as a free transfer from Stevenage in the summer and now he’s got how many clubs chasing him? We must be doing something right.
“He’s an excellent footballer and it didn’t surprise us that someone would come in for him this January but sometimes it’s difficult to explain to people why you’ve signed players.
“We signed [Alex] Lawless when we did because we thought that something might happen.
“When we knew that it was likely to happen we’ve gone and got Robbie Willmott. We haven’t reacted."
And Money assured fans that 'operation promotion' is still very much on the cards.
He said: “What does Drury bring to the game? He’s a creative passer but I think Lawless has shown in recent games that he can bring that to the team too.
“He [Drury] can cross the ball and I think that in Lawless and Willmott we have that type of person that can do those things.
“Obviously, the make up of the team will change but we are still very confident that we have a very good group of players that can push on from here.
“He [Drury] has been important to us and I will miss watching him play but I’ve enjoyed watching us very much this year and I’m sure that won’t change too much if at all."
The Luton nboss insisted that he wasn't involved with how much the club have made from the sale of the midfielder.
He said: “I make the recommendations. I decide who we are going to sign and other people sign them and then they move on, so I’m not the right person to ask."
Money confirmed that two other players have followed Dury out of the exit door on transfer deadline day and some have returned are about to.He said: “Paval Besta is going back to the Czech Republic, we’ve released Taiwo Atieno, who was on a short term contract until January.
“Kevin Pilkington is back which is good news. It will bring valuable competition and cover for Mark Tyler.
“We cannot put ourselves at risk in any way shape or form. Kevin has been terrific, his attitude is first class and he’s more than happy to come back and help us make the final push."
And young forward Dan Walker is to return to Bedfordshire after a month with Conference rivals Eastbourne Borough.
“We are going to bring him back," said Money. "He’s had his month and we are anxious to get him back with our group and add him to what we have.
“He’s done well at Eastbourne but let’s bring him back, certain for two or three weeks, and see where he’s at."Money also confirmed that the club are looking at bringing in a player as defensive cover before the transfer window shuts at 11pm tonight.
"We are looking at someone to come in, either in the short term or until the end of the season, as defensive cover, simply because we cannot wait forever for [Shane] Blackett and [Freddie] Murray to recover [from injury].