Hatters boss ready to streamline Luton squad

Town manager Nathan Jones has reiterated his desire to streamline the playing personnel he inherited from John Still at Kenilworth Road.

Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones

Jones watched from the sidelines as a Hatters side containing a mixture of first team pros and U18s were beaten 2-0 by Premier League AFC Bournemouth in the Final Third Development League on Tuesday afternoon.

With three of Luton’s FA Youth Cup heroes in Liam Gooch, Tyreeq Bakinson and Alex Atkinson all starting, Jones wants to include more in future games, instead of members of an over-inflated first team squad.

He said: “That’s what the games are for. In the past because of the size of the squad, it’s been the majority of pros playing because with 27 pros, you’d be able to field more than two teams.

“We’re moving forward and the squad will be streamlined. Those are the type of the games where we have a mixture of those who are really doing well in the 18s and the development squad will be pushed as there needs to be a pathway for them.

“If they haven’t got a pathway then it gets clogged.”

One of those players, Bakinson, was involved in the travelling squad at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, going through the pre-match warm-up and Jones hopes that will become a regular occurrence.

He continued: “It’s a massive process in terms of creating a football club and having a way about us and an ethos of what we want to do, there has to be that pathway.

“Those that do well, will get on that path and hopefully end up in the first team. Tyreeq’s one of those and hopefully there’s a few more.

“Frankie (Musonda) played with us and others that have been close to travelling, as long as they continue to do well, they’ll get opportunities.”

On the clash against Charlton, which saw the likes of Dan Potts and Mark O’Brien get their first chance to impress Jones in a match situation, the boss said: “It was important to get minutes into certain players, as I’ve got a lot who haven’t played and I was able to see one or two.

“It was a difficult game, a difficult pitch to play on, but was good for them to get minutes, so that when the are called upon, they’ll be a little bit more ready.

“I know them (Potts and O’Brien) and have seen them play before, but haven’t seen them play for Luton since I’ve been here.

“So that’s been the frustrating thing, as we have to gauge what they’re like in a Luton shirt.

“It was good to see them and they benefitted from the experience of having that 90 minutes against quite a fluent Bournemouth side. It was a good run out for them and they’ll be better for that exercise.”

With Josh McQuoid and Nathan Doyle missing this weekend’s game with Hartlepool, Jones was hopeful on the fitness of Alex Lawless who missed the 4-1 defeat to AFC Wimbledon as he added: “It’s looking a lot better on the injury front with one or two coming back in and having a weeks training, so they’ll be stronger.

“The players that we lost in the first game are now back and have trained for this week, so we’re in a better place in terms of numbers and in terms of competition.”