Jones preparing his Town side to face a 'front-footed' Tangerines in front of the Sky cameras at Kenilworth Road

Hatters boss gearing up for televised test

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 8:55 am

Luton chief Nathan Jones is ready to face what he described as a ‘front-footed’ side in Blackpool when they head to Kenilworth Road for a Championship fixture broadcast live on Sky Sports this afternoon.

The Tangerines head to Kenilworth Road buoyed by a fantastic result on Easter Monday as they thumped Birmingham City 6-1 at Bloomfield Road, in what was easily their best success of the season.

It saw Neil Critchley’s side end a run of five games without a win as they sit a commendable 16th in the division following their promotion back to the second tier last term, and have their sights set on a top 12 finish.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

Jones’ side have vastly differing aims, looking to secure a play-off berth and then have a crack at the Premier League, but against a side who have struggled on the road this term, with just one win since October 30, the Hatters chief said: “We have three games to go now and then god willing a post-season but we’re just preparing for Blackpool.

“It’s a real tough game, they had a fantastic result on the weekend and they play with freedom.

"They are a front-footed side, it will be a very difficult game we know that and it’s an early kick-off again, it’s on Sky so the added pressures come with that.

"Maybe not so much pressure but the added things that come with playing on Sky.

"It’s a great game, we would have taken this position every single day of the year 10 or 11 months ago.”

The Town chief wasn’t reading too much into the Tangerines’ annihilation of Lee Bowyer’s out of form Blues either, as he continued: “It’s a strange time, two teams with a little less pressure, sometimes these freak results can happen.

"You’ve only got to look at us and Birmingham, Birmingham’s position and our position, our goal difference against those is minus eight, we’ve lost five and three nil.

"Strange results can happen if you’re off it for 10 minutes, 15 minutes in a Championship game, you can get punished.

"The Birmingham game, you can’t look at it and think they’ve been absolutely hammered there because they haven’t.

"Blackpool took their chances, scored from set-plays and these things can happen.

"What we have to do is make sure that we’re the best version of us and if we’re the best version of us, that’s all I’m concerned about.”

Jones will hope that Town for once aren’t having to make enforced changes as they were against Cardiff on Monday, with James Shea, James Bree and Fred Onyedinma all replaced due to injuries.

It happened twice against Huddersfield recently with Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Henri Lansbury going off, while Cameron Jerome also had to be make way against Peterborough in the first half.

Looking for some better fortune this time, he said: “We have picked up a few injuries in the last few weeks that have curtailed us a little bit, we seem to be making changes in games to get through games rather than to give us impetus and so on but that’s part and parcel of it.

"We’ve asked everyone to be ready, people have come in and done fantastically well and we’ve had a decent Easter which has put us in a decent position.

"It’s unfortunate we keep picking up in game injuries and I hope that stops because it’s curtailing performance levels.

“It's not like the extent of the injuries, we’ve having to make substitutions constantly, one or two before half-time and that just curtails your ability to really be high tempo, to have game-changers and people that can really take you forward in the second half.

“Some are enforced, some are the right decisions, but very few are tactical ones.

"The last time we made a tactical decision was Hull away.

"We were very bold, 1-0 up, we made a tactical change on 55 minutes, changed a few players, felt we needed certain things and we went on and won the game.

“Saying that, in terms of going up against Forest, we were good as well.

"At the minute, we’re having to plug holes and make sure that everyone’s ready for every eventuality because we are having unorthodox eventualities at the minute.”