Mackail-Smith needs to be tested from the start soon

Craig Mackail-Smith is felled for Luton's second penalty on Saturday
Craig Mackail-Smith is felled for Luton's second penalty on Saturday

Striker Craig Mackail-Smith will have to be tested from the start soon according to Luton boss Nathan Jones.

The 32-year-old made his first appearance since March 19 when coming on as substitute for Jordan Cook during the 3-1 win at Exeter on Saturday.

Sooner or later he has to go through the barrier, and whether that’s tomorrow or whether that’s Saturday or if he needs one more development game we’ll see.

He has also completed 45 minutes and an hour in Luton’s last two development games, and is expected to feature again in tomorrow night’s EFL Checkatrade Trophy tie with Millwall at Kenilworth Road.

On the chances of him being named in the starting line-up, Jones said: “He’s very close to starting, we will have to put him in sooner or later as you can’t just keep giving him 10s, 15s and 25s (minutes) and hoping he gets there.

“So sooner or later he has to go through the barrier, and whether that’s tomorrow or whether that’s Saturday or if he needs one more development game we’ll see.”

Mackail-Smith showed he has lost none of his willingness to burst forward at St James Park either, racing on to Danny Hylton’s through ball, as he was felled by Troy Archibald-Henville for Town’s match-clinching penalty.

Jones continued: “It was a toss-up with him and (Isaac) Vassell on who to bring on and we just felt we needed a bit of experience, bit of nous at that time of the game and he gave us that.

“We know what we get from him work-rate and energy-wise and we just felt it might have been too soon, but he showed he’s not far off and he’ll get more minutes this week so hopefully on Saturday he’ll be even closer.”

Jones, who has made 11 changes to his side in both recent EFL Trophy matches, beating Gillingham and West Brom U23s, confirmed there will a similar rotation policy in place tomorrow, adding: “There’ll be changes from Saturday of course, because we’ve got a lot of games coming up, it’s an important time and we’ll use the squad tomorrow.

“Whether we’ll make the amount of changes we have is another thing, but what we will do is just freshen us up slightly.

“Jack Marriott is suffering from a sore foot and then Johnny Mullins went down in warm up so we’re going to have to assess those and see where they are in terms of tomorrow and Saturday as they’re two big players for us.

“Apart from that, we’re okay, a few bumps and bruises and stiffness after the shift they put in, especially second half on Saturday, but that’s to be expected.”