Jones thrilled that Luton are considered rivals with ex-Premier League side West Brom for a play-off berth

Harry Cornick goes for goal against West Bromwich Albion earlier in the seasonHarry Cornick goes for goal against West Bromwich Albion earlier in the season
Harry Cornick goes for goal against West Bromwich Albion earlier in the season
Town go up against the Baggies at Kenilworth Road on Saturday

Luton boss Nathan Jones is thrilled his side are being mentioned in the same breath as Saturday’s opponents West Bromwich Albion to be one of the sides challenging for a place in the Championship play-offs this season.

Going into the contest, the Hatters, sitting 10th, are merely one point and one place behind the Baggies in the table, with a game in hand in their favour as well.

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It wasn’t a position Town were tipped to find themselves in at the start of the season, but with just 16 matches remaining, a crack at finishing inside the top six is a real possibility.

Jones said: “We love the fact that West Brom are a rival of ours, a direct rival, not just in the same league but their goal is our goal.

“With the greatest of respect resources wise, we’re not really on the same planet, but in terms of what we want to do, then same goals.”

Relegated out of the Premier League last term, the Baggies would have clearly expected to be pushing for an immediate return to the top flight, but it just hasn’t materialised.

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A run of three wins in 13 games saw Valerien Ismael, only appointed in the summer, lose his job at the Hawthorns, with the vastly experienced Steve Burce named as his replacement.

The ex-Newcastle and Birmingham chief is yet to win during the two fixtures he has taken charge of, leaving Albion some 12 points away from the automatic promotion places.

With the Baggies scrapping for the top six now rather than finishing inside the top two, it is a good barometer of just how tough a league the second tier is this term, as Jones continued: “It does show the nature of the Championship.

“There’s a lot of good sides in it, people expect stuff and sometimes you get disappointed.

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“To be fair, our next four fixtures, three teams have been in the Premier League.

“It shows with the calibre of sides and then you look at Bournemouth and Fulham, who have very recently been in the Premier League.

“It shows the size and the calibre of the league, and what we’re competing against, it’s fantastic.”

It’s not just Luton and West Brom who are being spoken about as play-off candidates either, but anyone down to 16th placed Swansea might consider themselves in with a shot during the run-in.

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Town are well positioned though, just four points away from sixth placed Middlesbrough and with games in hand on both QPR and Huddersfield who are fourth and fifth respectively.

Jones added: "The fact we’re even talking about the play-offs shows that once again, we’ve progressed this year.

"We still have to continue and make sure we have a good end to the season but for us to be in the mix after being in the division for two years, the first year really having to fight for survival, it shows we’ve progressed which is one thing you can’t forget.”