Hatters boss wouldn’t be fazed by starting youngster Justin

Hatters full back James Justin

Hatters full back James Justin

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Hatters manager Nathan Jones insists teenager James Justin is ‘ready’ to play against Doncaster Rovers this weekend if he opted to make a change at full back.

The 17-year-old made his full debut against Aston Villa in the EFL Cup last month, producing a highly promising performance when selected at left back with Dan Potts suspended.

He played against Villa, came on in the Exeter game and then against Gillingham he was excellent at left back, not in his preferred position.

Nathan Jones

Stephen O’Donnell has started every match so far this term in the right back role, but when asked about playing Justin, the boss said: “Of course, James has shown that he’s ready to play.

“He played against Villa, came on in the Exeter game and then against Gillingham he was excellent at left back, not in his preferred position.

“So I’ve got absolutely no problem with putting him in.”

Town’s full backs, who have such a vital role to play when offering width in Jones’ diamond formation, have come under criticism from some supporters in recent weeks, mainly for their efforts in the final third.

Luton’s chief knows there is improvement that can be made, saying: “We always want more from certain people, I don’t think it’s been a massive issue in what we’ve had though.

“We can always be better, movement in the box, be better timing of certain things, so I don’t think it’s a massive, massive issue.

“We’ve got four who are competing, we can put Alan Sheehan in that category as well as he can play there.

“They know they have to produce, otherwise there’s someone waiting to take their place.”

Sheehan has been predominantly utilised as a centre half since arriving at Kenilworth Road, and his two games this season have been alongside Johnny Mullins at the heart of Luton’s defence.

The Irishman admitted when signing it was his position of choice, but Jones would consider shifting him to the full back position if he felt it was right, saying: “The thing about Sheehan is just getting him back to the levels he was.

“He’s a big player for us, someone who was my first loan signing, my first permanent signing, so he’s someone I trust and someone I know makes us better.

“That’s why we gambled on bringing him back, maybe prematurely. He hadn’t played that much football, but he’s so important to how we play, I wanted to do it.

“It’s an option of doing that (moving to left back), but he’s important to us at centre half when he plays.”

Jones also praised club captain Scott Cuthbert for his reaction after being dropped to the bench for the last two matches, despite impressing during the 4-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers.

He added: “I speak to all my players, especially with a big decision like that, I speak to them on any kind of decision, to make sure I have constant dialogue with them.

“Scotty knew and I wouldn’t have expected him to be happy as he would have been disappointed but it’s not because he was dropped, but for a certain game we wanted to do certain things and as it happens, we didn’t do those things.

“So that one kind of backfires on the day, but who’s to say if he had played we would have been any better in that way because we started with Sheehan and Mullins who are very adept at this level anyway.

“He’s a fantastic pro and I never envisaged any problems with him or anything, but I would be disappointed if I was him.”