Jones ready for the challenge of HNK Rijeka

Hatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Luton boss Nathan Jones is ready for his side’s step up in class when they face Croatian side HNK Rijeka out in Slovenia this evening.

The Hatters come up against a side who appear far superior to the standard of opposition they met in NK Bravio last year, with Rijeka having qualified for the Champions League this term, beating AC Milan in the Europa League group stages last season.

Our players have had another year with us in which we think they’ve improved, so it’s going to be a big test, but a good test.

Nathan Jones

Jones said: “They are very strong, and we’ve deliberately gone strong because we know we are going to need a test this year – we want to test ourselves early.

“They finished second in the Croatian top division and are in the Champions League next year, so we know it will be a real good test, but we need that.

“We’ve gone up a level ourselves, and we’ve done that in our pre-season friendlies too. They beat AC Milan last season, but we’ve done a lot of out of possession stuff out here and worked on our defensive side, so hopefully that will show this week.

“We’ve gone up a level, we think we’ve recruited at another level, and obviously our players have had another year with us in which we think they’ve improved, so it’s going to be a big test, but a good test.”

Town’s players and management staff have spent the last seven days in Kranjska Gora and on just how it has been so far, Jones said: “It’s all gone well and the facilities have been excellent, perfect for what we needed in terms of the weather has not been that hot, so we’ve been able to get all of our work done.

“We’ve worked tactically, technically, we’ve done real good fitness work. Everyone is in good spirits, the new lads have been able to integrate even better, so it’s been very good.

“There’s a lot of places here that are very picturesque with the lakes and mountains, so it’s been fantastic.

“I would have liked this as a player, to come to a different country – one that you maybe wouldn’t come to unless circumstances brought you here, so I think it’s excellent.

“The facilities are a level up from what we had last year, so every year, as we try to do with everything, we’ve improved – and our training camp is one of the things we’ve tried to improve.”