Luton boss eager to keep on bringing youngsters through at Kenilworth Road

Town manager has been adding to his development squad in recent weeks

By Mike Simmonds
Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 5:04 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 5:20 pm
Elliot Thorpe joined the Hatters last week
Elliot Thorpe joined the Hatters last week

Luton boss Nathan Jones will do his utmost to keep bringing through young players at the club during his stint at Kenilworth Road.

Since the manager first took over in January 2016, he has given 15 players their debuts from the academy, with the major success story being James Justin, who was sold for a club record transfer fee to Premier League side Leicester City back in June 2019.

Now the Hatters have upped their options by setting up a development side, which has already seen Dion Pereira break through to become a regular in Town's match-day squad this term, while Sam Beckwith, Corey Panter and Jake Peck have all been loaned out to further their experience.

Jones added to those ranks recently too, with Wales U21 international Elliot Thorpe joining following his departure from Tottenham Hotspur, plus agreeing terms with Conor Lawless and Josh Williams after their spells with Reading and Crystal Palace came to an end.

Although the Town chief wants to push on and promote more from within, he is realistic enough to know it has to be down at a measured rate, saying: “You want to get youngsters through, but one, you’ve got to produce these youngsters, two, they’ve got to be good enough and three, they have to be better than what we’ve got.

"Now we’ve not got an aging squad by any means, we had a few creeping on to that age and we made sure we addressed that in the summer.

"There are enough youngsters, but it depends what we want.

"Do we want to struggle or do we want to keep establishing ourselves at this level and beyond? To do that you need a blend.

"James Justin was 17/18 when he made his debut for our first team and if a James Justin comes up, then trust me, we’ll have no problem putting him in.

"But any youngster, anyone coming in, they have to be better than what we have.

"Now we’ve taken gambles because you look at Bournemouth and you look at us, and it was a really even game (on Saturday), but Dominic Solanke cost them 25 million, Elijah Adebyao for example, we had for probably a hundredth of the price and that’s the market we’re in.

"Now we have to produce our own, and we are, and we’re producing players from League Two to Championship to compete, so we’re doing, I wouldn't say quite miracles, but we’re doing a wonderful job in terms of keeping to our model.

"That takes a lot of work because we can’t go out and spend five, six million on a readymade one, so we are developing people all the time.

"Then someone like Cameron Jerome comes available that has been readymade, but maybe at the twilight of his career where we can get something out of him, and that’s how we work here.

"So yes I’d love to have an 18-year-old team of (David) Beckham, (Paul) Scholes, both Nevilles, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Cristiano Ronaldo, I’d love that, it would be brilliant, but that’s not reality.

"So we’ll keep trying to produce and keep trying to bring in, but we also have to maintain that we also have to get Championship points.”