Luton Town is the perfect place for any young player to be at according to boss Nathan Jones despite seeing Tyreeq Bakinson move to Bristol City last week, bemoaning his lack of first team opportunities.
Although Town have now lost Bakinson and Freddie Hinds to the Robins, with fellow academy graduate Cameron McJannet heading to Stoke City in August 2016, the Luton chief believes there is a clear pathway at Kenilworth Road, as long as the youngsters can prove they’re good enough.
For me as a young player I would want to be at this football club, I 100 per cent would want to be at this football club, well I do, because I am.Nathan Jones
He said: “Our environment is very good for a young player.
“They want to play games, but we train hard, we train well, we play a certain way that develops them, that teaches them certain ways to play.
“We demand things from them, we have the best sports science department for me, so they get physically stronger.
“It’s a wonderful training ground, a wonderful club to be at with fans who love homegrown talent, what more do they want? What more do they want?
“For me as a young player I would want to be at this football club, I 100 per cent would want to be at this football club, well I do, because I am.”
Jones has clearly shown his trust in bringing players through from the youth ranks, with a dozen handed their first team opportunity since he arrived back in January 2016.
One of those, James Justin, made his full England U20 debut this week, as the boss continued: “I think I’ve given 12 debuts since I’ve been here, that’s 12 debuts in 19 months.
“How many managers in the Football League have done that? While improving results? While improving the style of play?
“What I’m saying to young players is, you have to be patient.
“You don’t see many going into Jose Mourinho, saying either play me or I’m going.
“I’m not comparing myself with Jose Mourinho, but the exact thing is the same.
“He has a mandate to do certain things and we will do it in our own time when they are ready, because when they are ready we put them in.
“We’ve got a fantastic one in James Justin, let’s talk about him.
“He wants to be here, we turned down big offers for him, he’s an England U20 international, flourishing here and a wonderful, wonderful human being with it.
“That’s who I prefer to talk about, not ones that believe that they should be getting stuff.
“Well prove it and we’ll give it to you, I could say ‘I should be this, I should be that’, until I can prove it I don’t get jack.
“So let’s talk about the positives, as we’re a wonderful football club, with great fans, they turn out, they support us, they see what we’re trying to do.”
Although having a firm belief in promoting from within, Jones admitted he has to be realistic too, and won’t just fill his team with youngsters at the expense of being a League One club next season.
He added: “If they are good enough, then they will play.
“We have that now with Akin (Famewo), we have great hopes with Akin and Frankie (Musonda), but right now, are they ready for that (Lincoln away) today?
“Are they ready to do that today, or do we say, we don’t worry about promotion, what we’ll do is we’ll blood you in and give you the opportunity.
“It would be even better to get promoted, but if we’re patient and we develop them and give them opportunities, they they’ll get opportunities.
“It’s a wonderful football club to be at as a young player, a wonderful football club.
“We do things right, it’s as good a football club as it is, outside the Premier League.
“I can’t say about the Premier League as I haven’t worked in the Premier League.
“But outside, this is as good as football club as there is.
“The process, how we look after people, the staff we have, the pathway is right here, if I was a young player I’d want to be at this football club.”