Hatters boss Nathan Jones doesn’t think it will be too long before the talented crop of youngsters at Kenilworth Road starting coming into his consideration for a first team place.
The Luton chief saw midfielder Tyreeq Bakinson pen his first pro deal with the club last week, while Frankie Musonda and James Justin were awarded contracts late last year too.
“A lot of them are close to being included, but we don’t give them debuts, they have to earn those kinds of things.”Nathan Jones
Jones handed Musonda his debut in the closing minutes during the 2-0 win at Mansfield in January and when asked if the others might figure in his plans soon, he said: “A lot of them are close to being included, but we don’t give them debuts, they have to earn those kinds of things.
“Hopefully they’ll keep progressing and we’ll be able to put them into the first team and see exactly where they are.
“At the minute they’re competing with first team players and I’ve got a group of 20 players and they’re working really hard.
“So if any younger players what to get in there, they’re not just going to be handed it because they’re doing well in the youth side.
“They’ve got to step into our group and prove that they’re worthy because we don’t just hand out stuff here, they have to earn it.”
Bakinson, who was still only a first year scholar, was awarded a three and a half year deal as Jones continued: “Tareeq is part of a good young group and it’s important that the club ties these young ones down.
“If we see a pathway for them and see that they progress, we believe in them, then we tie them down and look to develop them so that they get better.
“There’s a process here now in place where if young players want to learn and have a hunger about them and are good enough they can get on the pathway and they’ll be given an opportunity.”
Jones also believes that by signing up the club’s youngsters to pro deals, it will encourage others they can have a future at Kenilworth Road.
He added: “We want to develop young players. We’re now a coaching club, a developing club and we want to be that.
“Because if we do that, the fans have an affiliation with those who come through.
“Financially it has benefits if you develop your own players and with the group that we have at the minute, it would be a shame if a few of them didn’t break through.
“So the better ones, the ones we feel are closer to us, we’ve tied down and are with us and then it does give that carrot to others that feel there’s a pathway here.
“We keep on about that, the process is to develop and there’s no point developing good players if there isn’t a pathway to the first team.
“I believe in young players, I’ve got a big background in that, when I was at Yeovil, Charlton and even Brighton, because they have a freshness, you can mould them, develop them into your DNA if you like.
“We’re very hopeful that a few of them will break in, but having that process and giving them that pathway, it’s no guarantee, they still have to work hard.”