Jones faces one of his toughest selections yet for Colchester trip
Luton boss Nathan Jones is well aware he faces one of his toughest selections when his side head to Colchester United tomorrow afternoon.
The Hatters are pretty much at full strength for the clash at the West Homes Community Stadium, with only Lawson D’Ath out injured, as they go into the game on the back of a confidence-boosting 2-0 win over Barnet last time out, that saw them back on top of the League Two table.
Town also entertain Mansfield on Monday, making it two games in four days and when asked if picking an 11 to face the U's was his most difficult so far, Jones said: “Kind of, yes, but we’ve won last week so we know we’re in decent form.
“We’re going to have to use the squad, I doubt it will be the same 11 for both games as you’re very fortunate if you do that.
“I know Accrington have been lauded for keeping the same team and if they’re fortunate enough to do that then fine.
“But we’ll pick a side that we think will try and win both games and we’ll see where we are when we come out of it.”
Jones opted to change his goalkeepers last week, with James Shea coming in for Marek Stech, whose partner had given birth earlier in the week.
On how Stech responded in training to missing his first league minutes of the campaign, Jones continued: “Very well, but what we said is when one has a dip and one needs to come in, as was the case, then we believe we have two first choice keepers, so we expect them to keep challenging.
“James Shea has shown a wonderful attitude in terms of competing with Marek and pushing Marek and that has enabled Marek to have an excellent season.
“So we expect exactly the same from Marek now with James.
“James has to make sure he keeps his levels and I don’t think he could have done any more.
“So it’s just a straight choice of who I think will contribute to getting us a clean sheet, but I don’t think he could have done any more on his debut in terms of he kept a clean sheet, what he did have to do he did very well in terms of his positioning and especially the save late on.
“So he’s in a good place, so is Marek now, obviously his new born is a bit of relief in terms of that, so we’ve got two real gooduns competing.”
Luton were also handed a huge boost by Alan McCormack’s first start in over six months, and the fact he lasted 90 minutes too.
Jones said: “We’ve waited a long time for that, since October. We’ve been without him for too long, so he’s fit now for the business end, and hopefully we can keep him fit right through.”
Whether McCormack can play both matches over Easter is another matter, but Jones has back-up with on-loan Ipswich midfielder Flynn Downes available after his England U19 duty.
Jones said: “There’s good competition there now. Pelly (Mpanzu) played there in midweek as well in the cup final (against Biggleswade Town), Olly (Lee) can play there, he played there a number of times last year, so we’ve got good options there.
“It’s not like we’re going to be short of cover, so lets embark on trying to win the game tomorrow and then we’ll see where we are and look for Monday.
“What we have to do is pick a side that’s going to try and win both games, and to do that we’ve got to have the maximum impact that we can.
“If we could roll out the same 11 twice we would to do that, but you never know, the Easter period is brilliant, this is when you’re going to need your squad.”
Another who has returned from time away with his country is Luke Gambin who featured heavily in Malta’s two friendly defeats to Luxembourg and Finland.
Jones said: “He’s been a bit unfortunate that he goes away and every time he does go away on international duty, we win.
“So I’ve actually been calling for a few more international breaks as it just means that we win when he’s away.
“He comes back into the squad and it’s a strong squad, so we’ll see where we are.”
Striker Harry Cornick is also available after missing last week’s victory, with Jones saying: “He caught the Milton Keynes bug as a few of them have had it.
“He’s back, he’s trained and we’ll see where he is. Providing he has no adverse effects from training, then he’ll be fine.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Shinnie earned a recall against Barnet after not being in the squad for the trips to Coventry and Newport, and on the chances of him being in the starting line-up away from Kenilworth for the first time since the 1-0 win at Grimsby on January 27, Jones said: “He missed a couple of away games, but they were tough games.
“They were games where it was difficult for it to be an out and out footballing game, so we made the choices on that.
“The pitches at Coventry and Newport are not renowned for being football pitches, so it was a tough choice to make.
“I don’t like changing sides for pitches, but sometimes at this stage of the season in League Two, you have to do it.
“Tomorrow I envisage being slightly different, they’re a footballing side, so it will be a footballing game, that might suit Andrew, you don’t know.”
Finally, Jones also decisions to make for his bench too, with Jake Jervis scoring twice in during the Beds Senior Cup final win over Biggleswade Town, along with Jordan Cook.
Danny Hylton and James Collins are expected to lead the line as both have 20 goals for the campaign in sight, as Jones added: “All my senior players got a run out, got minutes, we said this might be the last development game to get them 90 minutes, so we took them full advantage of doing it on Kenilworth Road.
“Jake is in good form and is ready to go and that’s we want, Elliot Lee is in fine form, Cornick’s coming back, and Jordan Cook got two as well in midweek.
“So there’s wonderful competition there vying for the places and we’re going to need that.
"As to get over the line we’re going to have to win games and to win games you’ve got to score goals, and to score goals you have to have that quality and we have that.”