The Jones boys and 1,019 Hatters head to Plymouth
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE v LUTON TOWN
(Home Park, Saturday 6th August, 3pm)
Nathan Jones led his team off on the 253-mile trip to Plymouth this morning and declared himself and the Hatters squad ready for everything the Sky Bet League Two season has to throw at them!
The Town boss took a fully fit squad with him down to Devon – apart from Craig Mackail-Smith and Danny Green who continue their rehabilitation from broken legs suffered last season – ahead of the 2016-17 opener at Home Park tomorrow afternoon.
“We are a full squad,” said Jones. “Danny Green and Craig Mackail-Smith are a little way off, but everyone I knew had a chance of being fit, they are all fit and we are very grateful for that.
“It comes down to a lot of God’s will, a bit of luck, but some real good planning by Jared Roberts-Smith, our sports scientist. It’s been a productive pre-season, but now the real thing starts – and we are looking forward to it.”
Opening day away trips don’t come much tougher than facing the side who lost at Wembley in last season’s play-off final. But Jones is happy to take on Derek Adams’ men in a part of the country he knows well, having lived in the south-west for seven years as player and coach at Yeovil.
“Plymouth’s a lovely place to go, on the coast down in the Devon and Cornwall area,” smiled the Welshman when asked if the Town could have picked a more tricky opener.
“It’s a difficult fixture, we are under no illusions about that. They were last year’s losing play-off finalists and they’ve recruited quite a few. They’ve lost one or two, but they’ve kept the bullk of things and have still got very good players.
“The manager now knows the league. He’s a year ahead of where he was last year, so it’ll be a very difficult fixture, adding in the journey and the weekend traffic and so on.
“But we’re ready. Our preparations were geared to this when we knew we had Plymouth. It’s a big one to start with and one that we are ready for.”
The ex-Brighton coach has signed eight new players this summer, with a dozen having left – including loanees – since the last game of last season. Jones now feels the Kenilworth Road squad is his.
He said: “You get judged on that now. Last year we were playing catch-up and for the most part, we caught up with people. But this is now a proper season.
“We have ambitions. We have a plan in place. We’ve recruited well. Now everything has to come together. Now the work really, really starts, and the pressure. The ups and the downs of the rollercoaster that is a Football League season. But it’s amazing, it’s the best thing you can do.
“All I can say is we are ready for that. Lots of things are going to happen in the season where we are going to have to adapt, adjust and react, and we are ready for that as well.”
- It is only 11 league games ago that the Hatters last travelled to Home Park, Jack Marriott scoring the goal in a 1-0 win for Nathan Jones’ men
- Tomorrow will be the 97th time the clubs have met. The overall record is the Hatters 26, Plymouth 41 with 29 matches ending in a draw
- Down in Devon, the Town have triumphed nine times, with the hosts winning on 29 occasions and ten games finishing all-square
- The Hatters squad includes goalkeeper Christian Walton and striker Isaac Vassell, who both started their careers at Home Park
- Town fans have bought 1,019 tickets for the game so far, but Plymouth have advised they will sell the remaining allocation of 400-plus tickets tomorrow from their Ticket Office in person or via Cash Turnstiles
- If you can’t make the game, we’ll be tweeting live from Home Park and posting a match report, gallery after the game with interviews with management and players in due course