Harford: Squad hasn't been affected by Jones' exit

Hatters interim boss Mick Harford
Hatters interim boss Mick Harford

Town’s players have shown a ‘fantastic’ reaction to manager Nathan Jones’ decision to leave for Stoke City ahead of one of their biggest game of the seasons this afternoon, according to interim boss Mick Harford.

Just days before Hatters were due to head to Sunderland, Jones decided to leave Kenilworth Road for the Potters, taking two members of his coaching staff in Joaquin Gomez and Jared Roberts-Smith with him.

However, Harford revealed that the squad haven’t let the news faze them as they prepared to face the Black Cats, saying: “The players have been fantastic.

“They’re a great bunch, obviously I was involved in the recruitment of them, so I know them all personally.

“I know the characteristics of them, I know what they’ve done, I know how they work.

“I said to the players the other day and Gary, I come in here most days, I don’t have to be in here, but I come here to watch the training, watch how they train, how they perform.

“The intensity they work at is excellent and it’s a pleasure to watch them train, a pleasure to be around them.

“The players will be fine, there’s some big characters down there, some real good characters in that dressing room.

“Obviously there’s a bit of uncertainty, but there’s good people around this club.

"Speak to Gary (Sweet), speak to me, speak to other people, just to reassure them that everything’s going to be all right and we’re in a good place.

“Nathan was a popular guy, a popular manager, he had a good rapport with the players, they’re going to feel a little bit of uncertainty, but I know all the players inside out.

“I was part of their recruitment, they’ve got good characteristics, they’re a well driven bunch and they’re desperate to get this club back where it belongs and they’ll be fine.”

Chief executive Sweet echoed Harford’s thoughts, as he didn’t expect the news of Jones' exit it would have any bearing on how Town performed at the Stadium of Light.

He added: “It shouldn’t. Changing one person, or even three people in an organisation, does not change the talent of the footballers we’ve got.

“They’re still the same players, we still have broadly the same structure, the same gameplan that we’re taking into games, so why should that be?

“It’s a psychological thing. At the end of the day, what players want to hear is who’s coming in and when?

“We’ll work on that hard. We do involve players to some extent in that process, in terms of we don’t talk about names or anything, but we keep them informed in the process.

“I think it’s really important to communicate with them, we trust them to do that, to have that and we respect their opinion.

“We respect them as individuals, and they’re a part of our whole wider team and as Mick said, they’re a great bunch of lads, every single one of them.

“There’s so much mutual respect in the camp, that any departure can’t kill that.

"So we’ve got a lot of faith that they’ll keep things stable, they’ll keep their heads on.

“They’re not going to try any less on Saturday, there’s even that little thought that they might even try a bit more, if they could.”