Jones warns Luton squad to shape up or ship out

Luton boss Nathan JonesLuton boss Nathan Jones
Luton boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones has told his players in no uncertain terms they will need to shape up or ship out if they want to have a future at Kenilworth Road.

The new Town chief completes a month in charge of the club on Saturday, as he continues to evaluate the personnel left to him by previous boss John Still.

Although Jones didn’t criticise the fitness levels of the squad that he inherited, he made it clear he expects it to be the norm for players like Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, who have been blighted by injury, to be able to play on a consistent basis in the future.

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Jones said: “That’s nice progress for him, but we train hard every day so the fitness will improve.

“It’s been a lot here talked about haven’t done this, haven’t done that, and so on, but we need to get a squad of players that can play 46 games a season.

“I was a player that played 46 games a season, or I could, and trained every day, and I want that in my players.

“I want my players to realise the fact that they have to make sacrifices, this is a lifestyle, it’s not a job.

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“So that they’re not, ‘I’ve just played three on the spin, played four on the spin, done okay,’ no. If we want to do anything, we want to go forward, I need a group of players that train, eat, sleep, breathe Luton Town, and if they don’t do that, they won’t be at Luton Town.

“I don’t want to comment on anything that’s gone on before, it’s not my business, not anything I can affect now.

“But we have players here that are getting stronger every day and that can only be better.

“We’re asking players, we’re demanding from players now to put in shifts day in day out, week in week out and that won’t happen overnight.

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“Because if you try to flog a horse, it’s going to break down, so what we’ll do is steadily we’ll improve players and we’ll improve hopefully most aspects of every player.

On the squad that Jones has at his disposal, he is still working out which players will accompany him going forward and which one’s won’t, as he conitinued: “I’m still finding out about players at the minute. I think that the squad is disjointed in what it has, we’ve got a lot of nice little individual footballers, but no real sort of structure in terms of pigeon holing a lot of players into positions, that’s what we’re trying to do at the minute.

“We’re trying to evaluate the squad, trying to find our best 11, trying to find the ones we can move forward with, find the ones that are not quite going to be for us and then see where we have to improve.

“I feel I’m getting there and feel I know a lot more about all the players now and hopefully that can take us forward.”

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One thing that has also improved is Town’s seemingly Achilles heel at conceding last-minute goals as Jones added: “That might be fitness, might be concentration, might be the fact that the desire, they actually want to work.

“A professional football player should be fit enough to train every day and play, some have injuries that can’t be helped, but for me it’s unacceptable if the player’s not fit enough, and doesn’t have that desire every day.

“Those players won’t be at Luton Town, because we don’t work with those players. I’m a manager that works tirelessly because I want to improve and I want to improve those around me, and I want those around me to improve and to improve those around them so that we take the club forward.

“Those who hold us back doing that won’t be at Luton Town.”