Hatters boss Graeme Jones believes he has got his squad’s time-off and training balance right during the international break, as the Town return to league action this Saturday against QPR.


The Hatters headed into the fortnight break from the Championship having won two consecutive league games, with a Carabao Cup win at Cardiff sandwiched in-between.

Jones said: “I think we had a really intense period that we managed to come through, so I think it was good to reward them with a little bit of time off. Not too much though, we have certainly worked during this international break and I think we will get adaptation because of it.

“But the flip side to that is, if we could have kept playing, then I would have. That would have been my choice because we were in a good moment, but we don’t make the fixtures. It’s been interesting.

“I have had a lot of international breaks and the truth is, we made some mistakes at getting the balance right between them getting time off [in his previous coaching roles] and training and I know we have got that balance right because I have been through it for such a long time. But I feel like we are refreshed physically and mentally and looking at the boys today, I am really pleased with the balance.”

James Collins made his international bow for the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday night, netting in their 3-1 victory over Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium having come off the bench on the hour mark.

The gaffer felt that the appearance was fully deserved, whilst the goal was a testament to the striker’s mentality.

“I was watching the England game and I was flicking over, as soon as I saw James come on I stayed watching the Ireland game,” Jones explained. “It was a typical James Collins performance – one full of courage and character. He doesn’t get phased by anything, he gave them a presence, put himself around, got a hold of the ball, had some nice touches at times and he wants to score goals and he was in the box because he wants to score goals and he got rewarded for it.

“I think [him making an appearance for Ireland and scoring] will give us more. For him, he’s now a Championship footballer playing at a really good international level. That mental step we were on about, I think he has made that now. He made his debut and scored, he will feel valuable, he has contributed, he doesn’t feel out of his depth. If anything, typical James, he relished in it – so I think we will see the benefits of that.

“I think it’s the measurement of all his work, if he didn’t go through the period of eight games with us – six in the league – he might not have been ready for the challenges he has taken on the chin every step of the way and maybe that has helped him for his Republic of Ireland international debut. He’s a brave character, he has come on and thought ‘I will have a go’ and I think everyone respects that.”

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