Jones: It was the right decision to play Sluga from the start

Luton boss Graeme Jones insists it was the right decision to play record signing Simon Sluga from the word go this season.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 3:52 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd November 2019, 3:53 pm
Town keeper Simon Sluga

The Croatian international moved from HNK Rijeka to Kenilworth Road for a fee of £1.2m on July 19, and despite having never tasted English football before, was thrust straight in for Town's opening fixture against Middlesbrough.

He made an absolutely stunning save during the first half before allowing Britt Assombalonga's tame shot to dribble through his hands as the visitors drew level in a game that eventually finished 3-3.

Sluga remained in the starting 11 despite some costly mistakes, but was eventually dropped from the side after two glaring errors in the 2-0 defeat at Derby County last month, with James Shea retaining his place since.

However, even with hindsight, Jones wouldn't change his call to start Sluga, saying: “I wouldn’t have this knowledge if I hadn’t have started him straight away, so we’re further down the line in terms of getting the best out of him by starting him

“It cost us a few goals. I think Simon would admit to that as well, but you don’t sign someone for one point two million pounds and not play them.

“If you think about his Middlesbrough game when he makes a magnificent save and then lets one in afterwards, that was just the story of his early season.

"That doesn’t mean it’s going to continue like that.”

Since coming out of the side, Sluga hadn’t featured until Tuesday night when he won his second cap for Croatia in their 2-1 friendly win over Georgia.

He came on for the second half, keeping a clean sheet in the progress, as Jones continued: “I think it boosted everybody.

"It’s good to get him back on a pitch again, as we took him out for different reasons.

"He looks bright and he made some good saves in training today. “

When asked how the 26-year-old had taken to being left on the bench in recent weeks, Jones said: “I think he’s fully understood the situation and he’s responded in the right way by getting his head down and working hard.

“We’ve tried to give him a bit of help in other areas, remember he’s settling into a new country and its not straight-forward for anybody.

“So I think he’s in a far better place now than what he was five weeks ago.”

Sluga wasn’t the only Hatter to have international action last week, with both Luke Bolton and James Collins representing their countries.

Jones added: “Luke Bolton had 60 minutes for England U20s and Collo got a small role playing for Republic of Ireland, so everyone’s come back with different emotions.

"Collo with a slight disappointment of not qualifying automatically, but the the boys have been good.”