Town chief relishing the challenge of going up against experienced Baggies boss Steve Bruce

Hatters manager ready to take on Baggies at Kenilworth Road

West Bromwich Albion boss Steve Bruce
West Bromwich Albion boss Steve Bruce

Town chief Nathan Jones is eager to test himself against one of the most experienced managers in the game in Steve Bruce when the Hatters go up against West Bromwich Albion this afternoon.

The 61-year-old was appointed as the Baggies chief recently after Valerien Ismael had been sacked following a disappointing run of just three league wins in 13 games, dropping Albion out of automatic promotion contention.

Following his departure from Newcastle United back in October 2021, Bruce was then appointed to the helm at the Hawthorns, leading his new side to a point from his opening two games so far.

While at St James’ Park, Bruce, who has been in charge of Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic (twice), Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Sunderland, Hull City, Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday, completed 1,000 competitive games in charge as a manager.

Bruce has come up against Luton three times before, twice while at Birmingham in the 2006-07 season, a 2-2 draw at St Andrew's, the Hatters winning 3-2 on home soil, while he had just taken over at Hillsborough ahead of the goalless FA Cup clash in January 2019.

Jones himself has been in the opposing dug-out to the ex-Manchester United captain twice, that cup contest, plus when Stoke chief in another stalemate, as on facing him on home soil tomorrow, he said: "You want to test yourself all the time.

"I’ve done it a few times, the last time I came up against him was Sheffield Wednesday v Stoke and we drew 0-0.

"The time before that we drew 0-0, so hopefully that’s not a pattern and we manage to score at the weekend.

“Steve’s a really experienced manager.

"He’s been in the game a long, long time, both as a player and a manager and he has a good record and that’s when he keeps getting good jobs.

“Steve, rightly or wrongly, was harshly dealt with at Newcastle, for whatever reason.

"He showed great dignity but you expect that because I know Steve and he’s a great guy.

“He’s very experienced and has a fantastic career, both as a player and a manager, so the calibre of manager and man that they’re able to attract, shows the size of the club.”

Now in the hot-seat at the Hawthorns, Bruce might have to aim for a top six berth rather than the automatic spots the club's board would have expected to be challenging for after being relegated from the Premier League last term, has a mightily strong squad in place for the Championship.

Striker Karlan Grant, signed for £15m in October 2020, leads the line, while England keeper Sam Johnstone is between the posts, with £18m midfielder Grady Diangana also with the Baggies too.

Jones continued: “West Brom are full of top Championship experience, top Championship players, players that have played in the Premier League.

“They are, and with the greatest of respect when I say yoyo, they’re one of the sides that are too good for this league and probably not quite good enough to sustain everything in the Premier League, which is a difficult league to do that.

“They’re always very, very competitive and good at this level, so we know it’ll be a tough game.

"Conditions on the weekend, we don’t know when the storm will clear so it’s going to be a barnstorming game.

“We know it’s going to be difficult because they’ve got real quality.”

Also at Bruce’s disposal is former England, Newcastle, Liverpool and West Ham forward Andy Carroll who was at Reading earlier in the season, before leaving in January and moving to the Hawthorns on transfer deadline day, although is yet to score in his three outings.

On facing the experienced forward, who was reportedly earning 75 times less than he had when at Newcastle while with the Royals, Jones added: “He’s a threat.

"He should be proud of himself because with what’s reported and what he had to do at Reading and so on, and then backed himself.

"Fair play to him, he showed that sometimes footballers get a bit of bad rap but he backed himself and it’s no surprise to me that he end up and a very good club.”