Hatters boss getting ready for a 'familiar' Championship opener at Barnsley

Nathan Jones at the full time whistle after last season's 1-1 draw with BarnsleyNathan Jones at the full time whistle after last season's 1-1 draw with Barnsley
Nathan Jones at the full time whistle after last season's 1-1 draw with Barnsley
Luton chief discusses season start

Town boss Nathan Jones is gearing himself up for a ‘familiar’ start to the Championship season when he takes his side to Barnsley on the opening day of the campaign.

When the fixtures were announced last Friday, Hatters were handed a trip to Oakwell on Saturday, September 12.

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The Tykes came up from League One with Luton in the 2018-19 campaign, while both sides stayed in the division with final day wins just over a month ago.

On the game, Jones, who has seven former Barnsley players in his ranks, including recent addition Jordan Clark, said: “A familiar, but tough start.

“They finished very well, similarly to us, and deserve their status, so I’m sure they will be stronger this year as we would hope to be.

“We’ve had a good competitive rivalry with them, a very healthy rivalry.

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“I felt we were the best two teams in League One when we got promoted, and I believe they’ve been excellent since the restart.

“For the last nine games, they were a real difficult side to play against and it’ll be a tough start.

“But you have to play everyone and there’s no good time or bad time yet to play a team, because no-one knows how everyone is going to start.

“There are a lot of connections between the clubs and I think there’s been a similar rise.

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“Barnsley were a bit of a yo-yo club, going up to the Championship, coming down as we got promoted to League One and then we went back up together, so because of the similarities in philosophies and stuff like that, there’s been a bit of a rivalry there.

“There are no easy games because you don’t know how teams are going to come out of pre-season.

“There are always strange results on the opening day, anything can happen. What we have to do is make sure that we are ready.”

After Barnsley, Luton’s opening matches sees them host Derby and travel to Watford in September.

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A packed October has games at home to Wycombe Wanderers, Stoke City, Nottingham Forest and Brentford, with trips to Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday.

Jones continued: “You look at the fixtures and there are no easy games, but these are the sides that we wanted to play.

“Without being disrespectful, we asked the lads when we were going into the Hull game, who do they want to play next year?

“Do they want to go to some of the League One grounds? Or do they want to go to the likes of Pride Park and play Derby, or Norwich at Carrow Road, and those type of places?

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“We want these big games, this is what we’ve worked for, wherever it is.”

With the congested schedule this term due to the coronavirus, Luton have seven games in 21 days at one stage from then and then an exhausting nine in 28 after the second international break.

Jones added: “That’s going to be the test, but in these strange times, this is the year that everybody needs to get through.

“Financially it will be a tough year for people in terms of revenue coming in, but also in terms of the volume and frequency of games and having to complete the league by the 8th May, so that everything else can stay on track.

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“It’s going to be a testing year, but we’ve come through the first stage of that in terms of finishing last season, which I think was done with real integrity and everyone did the best job they possibly could.

“Now it’s about getting through another year and then I hope that everything goes back to our normality.

“It will be a tough job for everybody, and these spells are when our squad will be tested, we know that.

"That’s why it’s important we do the work now and keep everyone fit because we like to work with a tight squad.”