Jones urges his players to step up and prove Luton can be considered serious play-off contenders

Hatters chief relishes trip to QPR this evening
Hatters boss Nathan JonesHatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Luton boss Nathan Jones has urged his side to step up and show they should be taken seriously as genuine play-off candidates this term.

The Hatters head to QPR tonight, with their hosts sitting sixth in the Championship, knowing that a win would see them leapfrog Mark Warburton’s team and climb back above the dotted line, at least until the rest of the weekend fixtures are completed tomorrow.

Jones saw his players waste the chance to go into the international break inside the top six after a 1-0 defeat against Stoke City last time out, producing a disappointing performance at Kenilworth Road, and wants them to put that right at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.

He said: “These are the games that we need to take advantage of.

“Stoke was one where they, at best, had two opportunities in the game and they took one of them.

“We had 13 or 14 situations that we should’ve done better with and we didn’t take advantage of that.

“Preston was exactly the same (2-0 defeat). We were fifth going into the game but we didn’t show up.

“It’s time that we stepped up now.

“If we want to be thought of as one of these teams that can sneak in there then we have to start proving it over a consistent basis, not getting in there and suddenly thinking we’ve made it or being fearful of where we are.

“We really have to rubber-stamp that because it’s such a tight, competitive league that you could find yourself fifth or 11th and that can happen very quickly.”

QPR have impressed on home soil so far this term, suffering just the one defeat, that back in September against Bristol City.

They are currently four unbeaten in the league in front of their own fans, with three wins, while it's a venue where Town have struggled badly at over the years, with no win in their last 17 trips, stretching back to October 1984.

Despite that, it's a challenge Jones is relishing, as he continued: "It's a fantastic club with history, real good ground, enclosed, good atmosphere, it tests you mentally as well as tactically, so it’s going to be a wonderful game.

"We went there last year and I thought we really played well, it didn't do us justice the scoreline (3-1 defeat), but it was the last game of the season, no fans, a totally different atmosphere this time.

"We’re looking forward to it, we know it’s a very difficult game, but these are the teams that we wanted to be alongside.

"In terms of they’ve been a Premier League club, had some big names, big managers and now we’re competing on an even keel and that's wonderful for us."

Rangers boss Mark Warburton has some real attacking talent at his disposal this term, although it might be that he is without a number of them this evening, with Scottish international Lyndon Dykes a doubt, while former Hatter Andre Gray has been ruled out with a knee problem.

On whether they will be hampered by the unavailability, Jones added: “I doubt that because they’ve got a squad to bring in.

"They’ve got Charlie Austin, who’s got Premier League experience and has been promoted from this level, so, if Dykes is out, Austin plays, it’ll make no real difference.

“I doubt they’ll have many out, there might be a few, but they’ve got a fantastic squad.

"They’ve been a Championship side for a long time, and if they weren’t in the Championship they were a Premier League side.

"I would expect them to be strong, however many they’ve got out.

"They’ve got a number of really good, technical players too and if you don’t get things right then they can hurt you.

"That’s the threat, but that’s the Championship.

“Anyone can hurt you because everyone has real quality and everyone is spending a lot of money on attacking players because that’s what wins you games.

“Every week, we come up against players with fantastic quality. It’s no different, just another test."