Jones: Adebayo and Mitrovic are the two best number nines in the Championship

Hatters boss full of praise for Town goalscorer
Elijah Adebayo heads Luton level with his 10th goal of the season on SaturdayElijah Adebayo heads Luton level with his 10th goal of the season on Saturday
Elijah Adebayo heads Luton level with his 10th goal of the season on Saturday

Luton boss Nathan Jones believes that striker Elijah Adebayo is one of the two best number nines in the Championship after watching him reach double figures against former side Fulham on Saturday.

The other is Cottagers talisman Aleksander Mitrovic who was also on target for the league leaders during an absorbing and entertaining 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road.

The form of the experienced Serbian international, who was netting his 22nd goal in just 21 appearances this term, should be no surprise, as he is clearly a step above the level, having cost £22m when arriving from Newcastle in July 2018 and bagging 26 in his last campaign in the second tier.

Adebayo, a former Fulham striker himself after coming through the ranks at Craven Cottage, cost Luton just a fraction of that price, thought to be around the £250,000 mark when arriving from Walsall in January, and is now on 10 goals from just 20 outings in what is his first full season at this level after stooping to head James Bree's free kick into the net on the hour mark to earn Town a deserved point.

It led Jones to pay a glowing compliment to his forward, saying: “If I’m honest, for me, they’re the best two strikers in the league and I say that with the greatest respect, the best two number nines in the league.

“With Mitrovic, and pay him full respect, in the Championship, he’s a top, top player.

"Adebayo will get there and that’s the position we're in as we have to recruit smart, we can’t go gung ho and (spend) big money, but that’s what we enjoy doing here and we enjoy it when people like that come off.

Aleksander Mitrovic had put Fulham ahead at Kenilworth RoadAleksander Mitrovic had put Fulham ahead at Kenilworth Road
Aleksander Mitrovic had put Fulham ahead at Kenilworth Road

“It's his first year (in the Championship) as lets be honest, he had four months and then he’s had another six, so he’s probably only 10, 11 months into his Championship career and that’s quite frightening.

"Everyone says to me Stevenage had him and he didn’t pull up any trees, but somehow and it’s not just down the work we do with him, the boy is diligent, he works hard, he buys into stuff, he gets hammered, we get into him and he’s been fantastic.”

Having reached double figures before Christmas is no mean achievement either as Adebayo is one of just five players to do so in the Championship so far following Mitrovic, Blackburn’s Ben Brereton-Diaz (17), Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke (16) and Swansea’s Joel Piroe (11).

It sees the Town striker ahead of players with Premier League experience such as Lewis Grabban (Nottingham Forest), Billy Sharp (Sheffield United) and West Bromwich Albion’s Karlan Grant.

On the number of goals, Jones continued: “Wonderful and he doesn’t get paid as much as Mitrovic, but pound for pound there’s not a striker like him in the Championship.

"That’s what we’re proud of and he's going to get better, he's not going to get any worse, he’s going to get better.

"That's the great thing for us because we will reap the benefits and we won't let him rest on his laurels.

"The good thing about him is he's just a humble kid who wants to work hard and when you’ve got that and talent, and some genetic attributes, then it’s some force.”

Team-mate Reece Burke was also keen to praise the goalscoring qualities of Adebayo and having played in the top flight himself for West Ham, making five appearances during his time with the Hatters, backed the forward to follow suit.

He added: “Definitely, I train with him all the time Elijah, he’s big, he’s powerful, he’s strong and he can finish, I think everyone can see that this season.

"If he gets his head down and keeps doing what he’s doing, then I’m sure he’ll push on to go and be big.

“It’s not an easy finish, but he’s taken it very well.

"If you look at the goals throughout this season, he takes them well when he does, so he’s brilliant for us.”