Luton boss insists recruitment was spot on as Town skipper Bradley approaches milestone

Hatters captain in line to make his 100th appearance this weekend

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 23rd October 2020, 9:04 am
Updated Friday, 23rd October 2020, 10:20 am
Town skipper Sonny Bradley is due to make his 100th appearance for the club this weekend
Town skipper Sonny Bradley is due to make his 100th appearance for the club this weekend

Luton boss Nathan Jones believes the fact that defender Sonny Bradley is in line to become the 10th player in the Luton squad to reach 100 games for the club this weekend shows that the club got their recruitment spot on during his first spell in charge.

Bradley, who joined in the summer of 2018 after leaving Plymouth Argyle, will join fellow centre half Matty Pearson in racking up a century of games, his team-registering three figures against Wycombe recently.

The pair have followed six other signings by Jones in reaching their ton, James Collins, Danny Hylton, Glen Rea, Andrew Shinnie, Harry Cornick and Elliot Lee, with Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Dan Potts the only centurions that the manager didn’t originally bring in.

Luke Berry is just five matches away himself from achieving the feat, and on what that longevity means, Jones said: “It shows two things, one, that we’ve got recruitment right and it’s fantastic, also that we’ve got that continuity, because all good sides need that.

“But we also need to remember that they were signed in League Two and now they’re playing in the Championship and competing well.

“Again, at times, we’re going to have days like we had against Stoke and Millwall, occasionally.

“We don’t want them to be too often, but we’re going to have occasional days like that because we’re coming up against Premier League strikers and recognised, honed, perennial, regular Championship teams, that are well-drilled and more experienced.

“So, sometimes, we’ll have to take one on the chin, but we’ve got to bounce back because we can’t take too many on the chin because, eventually, you get knocked down.”

On the addition of Bradley himself, who captained the side to the League One title during his first season, Jones said: “We brought him in for a certain reason and it was a bold move because we signed Jorge Grant on loan and we only brought in Sonny Bradley and Matty Pearson that year.

“We spent what our budget was to go out and improve and it was a bold move, considering we had one of the best defensive records in League Two, with people like Alan Sheehan, Glen Rea was doing fantastically well for us.

“But we felt we needed to step up a level and we signed these players to also be able to play well and defend well in the Championship, they’ve proven they can do that.

“Sonny has done magnificently well for this football club, so has Matty and he obviously made his 100th appearance slightly earlier, and, if selected, Sonny will do that.

“It’s brilliant for him.

"We brought him here to make sure we got promoted into the Championship and then to try and establish ourselves as a Championship club so, at the minute, he’s doing everything we’ve paid him for.

"He must’ve improved because we bought him from League Two, where he was scoring goals at League Two level and defending League Two boxes.

"Now, if he can defend a Championship box then you’re improved because the difference in quality and threat, without being disrespectful in any way, from League Two to the Championship is absolutely mega, it’s huge, it’s a massive thing.

"So that the fact that he’s competing at this level means he’s definitely improved.

After a tough first season in the Championship, as Luton struggled badly at times, particularly defensively, Bradley looks to have really got to grips with the step up in class this term, as until the last two games, he had seen Town breached just twice in their opening four league encounters.

Jones now wants him to refind that form after Town have let in four in their last two matches, conceding in a disappointing manner, especially from set-pieces in both contests.

The boss added: “Of late, and I mean days, not weeks, we’ve come a little bit unstuck with basic defending and now we’ve got to go back to that and Sonny’s key to that.

“We’ve spoken to them both (Bradley and Pearson) today and we’ve got to go back to basics in terms of our defending because we’ve conceded in certain areas, which has been totally uncharacteristic.”