The 28-year-old former Gas captain and Walsall left-back joins Steve Cotterill’s men as a free agent having turned down a new deal at The Memorial Stadium.
We spoke with Bristol Post’s Rovers reporter Sam Frost and Joseph Masi, former Walsall reporter at the Express & Star, to get views of what the attack-minded full-back can bring to Salop.
Q: Having turned down a new Rovers deal to stay in League One, this feels like a good move for Luke?
SF: He’s from the Midlands and feels he is more than capable of playing in League One. He scored 10 goals from left wing-back last season which is a great return, so it’s understandable why he’s pursued a move in League One.
I think this is the level for him. The general feeling at Rovers was that he’d have stayed at Rovers if a deal could’ve been worked out. Rovers thought they were close. Barton was confident it was getting done.
JM: Luke’s someone I kept tabs on since I stopped covering Walsall. He’s such a good lad. It will be disappointing for him to have two relegations on his CV but there’s no doubt in my mind he’s a League One quality player. He’s a Midlands lad, so it’s a great move for him.
Q: Clearly he has attacking qualities. Is that his real strength?
SF: He’s a better attacker than defender. I wouldn’t say he’s an outstanding attacker, 10 goals might be a bit of an anomaly but he’s definitely improved in that regard.
His attacking positioning has improved, he’s had tap-ins where he’s got into position at the back post, but he’s in the right place. He’s scored a few worldies, a brilliant lob against Doncaster, a volley against Rochdale and nice dink at Accrington. He’s come on massively in an attacking regard.
JM: Luke was a winger previously. He became a full-back in Scotland.
His left foot has genuine quality. It’s his biggest strength, he’s got a wand of a left foot. Quality you don’t see very often at League One. His delivery is excellent.
He’s very calm from the penalty spot and doesn’t feel the pressure. What sums up his mentality is Walsall were 1-0 down to his boyhood club Coventry in the 88th minute and he scored a penalty and a header.
Q: How about the defensive side of his game?
SF: He has been suspect in defence at times, there was a game against Hull where he tried to see a ball out and they scored from it and Rovers couldn’t get back in the game.
He’s had a good a season and leaves with some well wishes.
He was almost exclusively wing-back, a dependable left-sided centre-back behind him plays to his strengths. He’s not a terrible defender, it was just position issues more than anything.
JM: He’s very committed, he times his tackles well and is very good and very under-rated in the air. The one thing levelled at him from Walsall was his positioning, but he was learning the ropes as a winger converted to left-back.
He was signed as a wing-back but quickly became a full-back and had to learn the hard way.
Q: He was appointed captain by Joey Barton after the boss took over. Does he bring leadership qualities?
SF: He graduated in leadership levels and status this season, the season before he wasn’t much of a presence but he was definitely the loudest Rovers player on the pitch. He was the voice in a quiet dressing room.
JM: I saw him as a leader, he grew into it at Walsall. He’d be one before kick-off going around barking orders.
He’s a very well-rounded person, very switched on, bright, it’s obvious as soon as you speak to him.