The Oakwell club are unbeaten in 29 home league games, which is the second best run in the club’s history and seven away from the record set in the 1930s. Luton won League One last season, gaining a second successive promotion, as they secured the title on the final day of the season ahead of second-placed Barnsley who also went up automatically.
The Hatters are third-bottom of the early Championship table with a point from four games, three fewer than Barnsley who drew 2-2 at home to Charlton on Saturday then lost 2-0 at Birmingham City on Tuesday. Luton have added ex-Reds Jacob Butterfield, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Martin Cranie and James Bree to their promotion side which included Matty Pearson, Elliot Lee, George Moncur and Luke Berry.
Coach Dale Tonge said: “It’s a good opportunity for those players to prove a point against Barnsley and it’s up to us to prove them wrong. A lot of them will have very fond memories of playing here, because they did well like Jacob Butterfield who was a very highly-rated youngster when I was a player here. George Moncur is the only one who played under the gaffer (Daniel Stendel), so it shouldn’t make much of a difference. George was a good player and the gaffer was sad when he went.
“Luton have gone a different route to us with bringing in experience. There are arguments for both but, if you look at Luton’s position in the league, what has that experience brought them so far?
"But Luton should have more points than they have. We have watched all their games and they have been unfortunate. They are an exciting team and very innovative. It will be a tough, tough game. They are very, very good especially on transition, but we need to come up with a gameplan that will be effective against them.
“There is a lot of importance on the game in terms of the positions of both clubs. It’s a home game in front of our own fans and we want to put a performance on. We have merited two wins from our two performances at home so far.”
Tonge admits there was disappointment after the midweek loss but added: “We don’t allow the players to get down. There is a lot of positivity from the staff to get the confidence back. It’s important that you don’t get too high when you win or too low when you lose.
"The performance against Fulham (1-0 win in the first game) is how we want to play every week. We got a bit closer against Charlton. We know if we have a good home season we have an opportunity to do very well in the league. We will make improvements all the time and you might not get the finished article until Christmas.”
Centre-back Pearson played 19 games for the Reds as they were relegated from the Championship in 2017/18 then left the club on the same day that Stendel arrived as head coach last year. He became a cult hero at Kenilworth Road, playing every game in the promotion season and has started all four Championship matches – scoring at Cardiff earlier this month.
Forward Lee never started a game in his year at Oakwell during the 2016/17 campaign, coming off the bench six times in the Championship before moving to Luton. He has scored in the EFL Cup this season but has been an unused substitute in the last three league games.
Midfielder Moncur spent two and a half years at Oakwell, scoring nine goals in 78 games. He left midway through last season for Luton. He has been an unused substitute in the last two matches.
Central midfielder Berry spent the 2014/15 season at Oakwell, scoring twice in 37 games, before returning to Cambridge United who had sold him to the Reds a year earlier. He moved on to the Hatters in 2017 and, after recovering from a broken leg last year, has mainly been a substitute and may not be in tomorrow’s squad.
Right-back Bree, now 21, came through the Oakwell academy and played 61 games – helping them to promotion in 2016 before moving to Aston Villa the following January. He has struggled for regular football with the Villans and joined Luton on deadline day on a season-long loan, before making his full debut at left-back on Tuesday.
Bree is joined at Kenilworth Road by another product of the Barnsley youth system, Butterfield, who played 100 games for the Reds between 2007 and 2012 and was captain before moving to Norwich City. The 29-year-old central midfielder was on loan last season from Derby County to Bradford City, who were relegated to League Two, but moved permanently to Luton in the summer. He has played in every league game.
Defender Cranie, another former captain who played 122 games for the Reds between 2012 and 2015, joined Luton this summer after playing a fringe role in Sheffield United’s promotion to the Premier League and scored on his Hatters debut. He has started all four league games at right-back but is a doubt for tomorrow’s game with a knee injury.
The final ex-Red in the Luton squad is central midfielder Tunnicliffe who played three games for Barnsley on loan from Manchester United in 2013.
In return, Barnsley have two ex-Town players in Cameron McGeehan – who Luton sold to the Reds in 2017 after he scored 28 goals in 88 games – and Cauley Woodrow who began his career at the Bedfordshire club and played in the FA Trophy aged 16 before moving to Fulham. Barnsley first team coach Adam Murray made seven Conference appearances for the Hatters in 2010.
Luton, who were taken up by caretaker Mick Harford after Nathan Jones moved to Stoke in January, this summer appointed Graeme Jones who was Roberto Martinez’s assistant at Swansea, Wigan, Everton and the Belgium national team. He brought in nine players while the promotion full-backs Jack Stacey and James Justin were sold to Premier League Bournemouth and Leicester City for more than £10million combined.
Luton began with a 3-3 home draw against Middlesbrough in the first EFL game of the season then lost 2-1 at Cardiff City and at home to West Bromwich Albion. The Hatters then made their first of two trips to South Yorkshire in five days as they lost 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday.