Jones: Fulham trip is one of the most difficult games of the season
Luton boss Graeme Jones is preparing his side for ‘one of the most difficult’ games of the season’ when they head to Fulham this evening.
The Cottagers were relegated from the Premier League last term, but won three of their opening four games to make a bright start to life in their new surroundings.
Although their recent form has been patchy, notching just two wins in their past eight, taking one point from a possible six with a draw against Charlton and defeat to Stoke on Saturday, Jones doesn’t expect Fulham’s stay in the Championship to be a lengthy one.
He said: “There’s no way I’m sitting here underestimating Fulham, absolutely no chance.
“They are a top team, I expect them to get promoted and this is one of the most difficult games of the season going to Craven Cottage.
“I’ve been there with Everton, I’ve been there with Wigan, I’ve been there as a player, me and Brabs (Gary Brabin) played there, I know what Craven Cottage is.
“I’ve got total respect for the football club, I’ve got total respect for the manager, the staff, and the players are Premier League quality, and we need to be ready.”
Although Fulham lost Ryan Sessegnon to Spurs for £25m in the summer, they have kept a number of players who were in the top flight with them, including £22m striker Aleksander Mitrovic.
Boss Scott Parker has strengthened further with Anthony Knockeart, Harry Arter and Ivan Cavaleiro all dropping down on loan from Premier League sides.
Jones continued: “I don’t know what Fulham have spent, I don’t know what salaries they pay, I know it’s slightly more than ours, but they’ve got internationals, everywhere.
“They’re an ex-Premier League club, so we’re the underdogs.
“He’s (Mitrovic) the one probably with the most pedigree, an international, scored Premier League goals, a lot of Premier League goals, and he’s a handful.
“(Tom) Cairney the same, the two Reeds (Harrison Reed and Bobby Reid), you can go on and on, (Alfie) Mawson at the back.
“They’ve got some really good players, but so have we and we’re going there looking forward to the challenge and we’ll see what happens.”
Jones himself has good recollections of his times visiting Craven Cottage though, saying: “We won there for Doncaster, beat them 2-0, a long time ago now.
“It’s a very different club from what they are now.
“I played there when Kevin Keegan was manager, when I was at Wigan, Chris Coleman was centre half, I met Michael Jackson there, I’ve got a photograph to prove it.
“So I’ve got some good memories of Fulham, but it’s a really difficult place to go.”
Although Town go into the game as underdogs, Jones doesn’t think that means for a second they can afford to relax.
He added: “I never think the pressure’s off, every game, every day we need to be at it.
“That underdog tag if I was going into detail, it would be dictated by budget, be dictated by newcomers to the league, haven’t played at this level for a while, not an established Championship club, that would be the reason for that.
“But you can use it to your advantage as well, so we’ll see.”