'Angry' Hatters boss labels Jamaica's friendly with Argentina a 'scandal' with Town defender Bell travelling to USA for international clash

Town manager baffled by destination of international clash
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring against Jamaica during their friendly staged in New Jersey on Wednesday morning - pic: Getty ImagesArgentina's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring against Jamaica during their friendly staged in New Jersey on Wednesday morning - pic: Getty Images
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring against Jamaica during their friendly staged in New Jersey on Wednesday morning - pic: Getty Images

An angry Hatters boss Nathan Jones questioned the ‘validity’ of Jamaica’s friendly against Argentina this week, which saw Town defender Amari’i Bell have to travel to New Jersey in America for the fixture.

The 28-year-old was part new manager Heimir Hallgrímsson’s squad to take on one of the favourites for the upcoming World Cup this morning, as former Barcelona and current Paris Saint-Germain star Lionel Messi inspired Lionel Scaloni’s side to a 3-0 win with two late goals.

However, the venue and timing of the game, just a few days before Luton are in action themselves on Friday night at Hull City, was something that clearly annoyed Jones, as he said: “It makes me angry.

“I’m delighted he got to play against Lionel Messi, got to play against Angel Di Maria, got to play against Argentina, which is wonderful for his career, but playing a game in America, it just reeks of something for me.

“I hate it, I think it's the most ridiculous thing in history and something needs to be done as we’ve got players travelling for a friendly match, half-way across the world to play in a game where I don’t know how many Argentinians or Jamaicans live in New York, but to do a game in there just reeks of one thing and I hate it.

“I’ve got to be honest, I think it’s a scandal, but who am I to go against that?

“I’m delighted for him in terms of experience, it will do him the world of good, going up against that talent, I just question the validity of the friendly.

“They’ve now sorted out the Nations League so all games are competitive and you play against good level opposition, but is that making it nearer?

“Does Leo Messi play his football closer to New Jersey?

“I’d probably prefer they didn’t have to travel to Argentina, but for me, I just don’t see the validity of it.”

What further maddened Jones was that his on-loan USA international keeper Ethan Horvath didn’t actually have to travel back home for his two games, with the matches against Japan and Saudi Arabia taking place in Germany and then Spain.

Although he sat on the bench for both fixtures, as Arsenal’s Matt Turner played 90 minutes in the 2-0 defeat and goalless draw, moving him into pole position for the number one jersey in Qatar later this year, it means the Nottingham Forest stopper has no issues in turning out for the Hatters against the Tigers.

Jones continued: “That’s the irony, we’ve got an American who played in Spain, and a Jamaican who played in New Jersey.

"I understand why America moved it here, as the majority of players are European, but if Ethan had to travel all the way over there, we understand it as it’s his native country.

"But Argentina, Jamaica in New Jersey, there’s only one thing I can think of that they’d go there for.

“He’s (Horvath) back anyway, so it’s fine, no problem at all, it’s not an issue.

"In terms of him playing there, at least that’s one thing that works in our favour.

“I would understand it if he had to travel back to America as the America national team, playing in America, that’s fine.”

If Bell is a doubt for Town’s trip to the MKM Stadium due to the exertions of travelling, Jones didn’t feel it would be an issue in handing summer signing Alfie Doughty his debut, the former Stoke player having not featured yet this term due to injury.

He added: “No, not at all, if it was a risk we would have played Doughty in midweek (against QPR U21s), but Doughty is ready to go.

"We’ve got Fred (Onyedinma) and Amari’i, he’s only got a six hour flight to New Jersey, five, six hour flight, so realistically, he probably would have gone to Dubai, as a typical footballer in the international break anyway.

"It’s not the worst thing in the world, he’s had a bit of time off, I would imagine he’s had a couple of shopping trips in New Jersey, so he should be rested because apart from swapping shirts and getting some memorabilia, I can’t see the validity of the friendly.”