Hatters boss backs Three Lions to win the World Cup

Hatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Luton chief Nathan Jones has a sneaking suspicion that England will go on and win the World Cup this year.

The Three Lions face Sweden in a quarter-final clash this afternoon, with the winners going on to play either Russia or Croatia in the last four.

Jones is tipping it to be the Gareth Southgate's men as well, saying: “England are in, as the media have said, the easier side of the group, so once you get to a final, anything can happen.

“If you score an early goal, have a sending off, a VAR decision goes against you.

“For me, Uruguay have been excellent, I like Belgium, but I think it will be a Croatia, England semi-final, and then if England get though I fancy them, I really fancy them.

“I don’t know what it is, but sometimes I get a feeling for certain things.

"The first year I left Yeovil I had a feeling Yeovil would get promoted that year, which is ironic as I’d left the club, and they did, and I’m getting that feeling again with England.

“If I was a betting man, I’d put a lot of money on England winning it, but the teams in the other half of the group are going to have some real tough games to get through.

“Whether that takes it out of them for the final or whether it actually gives them that greatest test going into it, they’re more ready for it, I don’t know.

“But certainly I think England are the best team in their side of the draw, closely followed by Croatia.”

Although a proud Welshman, Jones has worked with boss Southgate when he was England's U21 manager before taking the senior post.

He believes the former Middlesbrough boss has been hugely impressive in role since being named in charge during November 2016.

Jones said: “I think he’s taken to the job seamlessly.

“The biggest thing about it is there’s always euphoria over England and sometimes it’s misplaced and sometimes it’s over the top and being a Scot, or an Irishman or a Welshman that can rankle with you a little bit.

“But I think he’s managed to change perception, there’s not the criticism over maybe a difficult game.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to break a team down, so if you win 1-0, if they had won the game 1-0 (against Colombia), it wasn’t a classic in any way.

“They controlled the game, they weren’t overly flamboyant in any way and I think he’s not just got a positivity, but a real calmness about the way he does things.

“I think he’s got the full nation behind him, the players are thinking differently and there seems to be a different mentality shift.

“Not just the players around the camp, the media, the pundits, I think everyone genuinely wants him to do well and that’s as much to do with the man as it is to do with England being their country.

“I would class him as a friend as he’s been a positive influence on my career.

"He’s a wonderful man and as a manager, he’s doing superbly well and abetted by good coaches around him as I know Steve Holland is very well thought of and I’ve seen first hand he’s an excellent coach.”

On whether he has taken anything from the World Cup to use in his management career with the Hatters, Jones added: “Of course, it’s part and parcel of your coaching career, you always look at different people and how they coach, how they set teams up.

“I think a lot of teams have gone there, been afraid of the real quality teams and shown them a lot of respect. Sometimes you like to see people be a little bit more positive.

“We saw Colombia, once they went a goal down they came out and actually thought ‘hang on, we can do something.’

“So I think they paid England, well earned respect, but you do learn a lot.

“I’m a positive coach, a positive manager, so you take a lot of things from it.