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3 October 2016

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Hatters gaffer will field strong XI against WBA

Nathan Jones says he will once again make changes for tomorrow night’s second game against West Bromwich Albion in Southern Group H of the revamped EFL Trophy, now known as the Checkatrade Trophy.

But the Hatters boss has promised to put out a “very strong squad” when the Baggies become the first of the EPPP Category 1 academy teams to visit Kenilworth Road.

Speaking at his pre-match Press conference at Ely Way this lunchtime, the Welshman said: “We’ve embraced the competition for what we’ve needed from it. We really freshened up the squad for the last game and gave some valuable game time to some of our players and gave debuts to a lot. 

“Tomorrow we will make the necessary changes to the team to make sure that we are competitive in all games. We’ll be playing a very, very strong squad tomorrow.”

In the first group match at Gillingham last month, Jones made 11 changes and handed 15-year-old Connor Tomlinson his debut as a late substitute, making the Harlington Upper School pupil the youngest player in Town history.

The gaffer went on: “It probably won’t be quite as young as last time, because we have a real strong squad and an almost fit squad. There is only Johnny Mullins, Glen Rea and Craig Mackail-Smith – who are all really close to full returns – who we are missing. 

“We’ve got a really strong squad, and we need to test people as well because it’s going to be a long season with the new loan windows and rules. We need to make sure that all our squad is ready.”

One man who could be in line for a Town debut tomorrow night is left-back Jack Senior, the teenager who joined the Hatters from Huddersfield on transfer deadline day, but has yet to feature after sustaining an ankle knock in the training ground challenge that also resulted in Rea being crocked a fortnight ago.

“Jack is in the squad for tomorrow,” said Jones. “We are pleased to have him back because we’ve been quite excited about him making his debut for us. We’ve had to wait because of a little bit of a knock, but he’s been flying in training.”

Two players who won’t be making an on-pitch return just yet are striker Mackail-Smith and winger Danny Green, who suffered broken legs towards the end of last season – the former at Plymouth on 19th March and the latter at Northampton on 30th April.

Mackail-Smith took part in his first full training session last Thursday, but Jones explained: “We are just having to take little steps with him because of the length that he’s been out. He trained fully with us the other day, but we can’t throw him in too early. 

“He’ll need to be built up and get his body used to the intensity we need him at, and once he can do that, we can get him closer to the first team.

“Danny is a bit further away than Craig. Obviously, the injury was a lot later for Danny than it was for Craig, so we expect that, but he’s making decent progress. 

“He had a little complication that’s been sorted. It was something that wasn’t as serious as we thought it was, so that put him back a little bit, but he’s making decent progress.”

Tomorrow’s match kicks off at the earlier than usual time of 7.30pm.

Unreserved seats are still available to purchase in advance from the Ticket Office or online. Cash Turnstiles will also be available for tomorrow night, with anybody 16 and over paying only £5.

Supporters under 16 can gain free entry, however, these tickets need to be obtained from the Ticket Office either in advance or on the night.


*Subscribers to Hatters Player can view the whole interview here

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