Jones optimistic that Luton can bridge the gap to Owls

Hatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Hatters boss Nathan Jones is confident his side can bridge the gap between League One and the Championship when they face Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup third round this afternoon.

The Luton chief has already seen Town take on a number of clubs from the higher echelons in cup competitions during his almost three years in charge at Kenilworth Road, and believes they can give the Owls a real contest.

He said: “As a League Two side we played against Aston Villa, played against Leeds United, played against Ipswich Town, played against Newcastle United.

“We made eight changes against West Brom (this season) who are a top side, so we know what the Championship holds.

“We know the gulf is big, it’s a big game, but we know we’re well on the way to bridging that gap.

"Because to be where we are, to have the points we have, then we know that we’re reasonably competitive at that level if we were to get there.

“So there’s no fear in going there, maximum respect, but no fear.

“It’s a chance to test ourselves, a chance to win a game, because we’re not going there to take photographs and buy a scarf.

"We want to go there and really put in a good show, as we believe that we do good work.

“We believe we do Championship quality work here, we believe we’ve got a real good chance of getting to the Championship in the near future, so it’s a good test.”

The Luton boss can’t wait to lead his side at Hillsborough as well, a stadium which is one of the famous old grounds in English football.

He continued: “It’s a wonderful, wonderful place.

“The history of the place and the club they are, everything about it is a great tie.

“It’s a real test for us as a group, a club, but a wonderful, wonderful game.

“We won’t be going there to take pictures, it’s not that type of ground, it’s not the Nou Camp, but it’s a great, historical ground.

“It’s well renowned for the tragedy and we respect that, but I remember watching the FA Cup and it was a semi-final venue.

“I think it’s been a European Championship venue, but I remember Chris Waddle playing, Des Walker played for them.

“It’s a real historic club and a real good club.

"I’m close to Paul Hart (former Luton assistant and Wednesday player) and he tells me stories about it, so it’s a good cup tie, a real, real good cup tie.”

Although the Owls are under new management in Steve Bruce, the former Sunderland and Aston Villa boss he won’t actually take charge until next month, but that didn’t have any effect on Jones’ preparation.

He said: “That doesn’t preoccupy me, that’s nothing we can affect anyway.

“We have to prepare for a side that’s unbeaten in four, they’ve had two wins, two draws against some tough sides.

"They beat Middlesborough, drew with West Brom away, so they’re in real, real good form.

“We know we’re going to have to go there and treat it right.”

The Hatters will be cheered on by well over 4,000 travelling supporters too, as Jones knows they will back their team to the hilt throughout the 90 minutes.

He added: “I’m sure if we’d had more, we’d have taken more.

“We took seven and a half (thousand) to Newcastle and what a wonderful following to take.

“It makes it a cup tie as Hillsborough’s a fantastic place, the acoustics are brilliant there and there’ll be plenty of Hatters to add to that.”