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NJ: THE TEAM SELECTION IS A REAL HEADACHE

6 October 2016

Nathan Jones speaking to the press ahead of his side's match against Crewe in League Two

A terrific 2-0 victory over West Brom in the Checkatrade Trophy has only added to Nathan Jones’ selection headache as his side face League Two new boys Crewe Alexandra this Saturday.

Summer signings Jake Gray from Crystal Palace and Newcastle loanee Alex Gilliead got on the score sheet for the Hatters, as their triumph against the Baggies guaranteed their side’s progression in the competition to the next round. 

Jones once again elected to play a young Town squad, but he said he made that decision based on talent.

“We haven’t just played anyone willy-nilly,” Jones said. “These are top end youngsters who are going to have good careers and they are going to remember this EFL Trophy as the start of their career.

“I said I wanted to work with 20 players and we probably have about 24 now. But that has been because of the emergence of the younger ones. Akin [Famewo], Tyreeq [Bakinson] and James Justin weren’t earmarked to play such big parts, but they have which is brilliant, it means we haven’t over shot or over spent, it just means they have stepped up to the plate.

“Now the team selection is a real headache. Everyone has had minutes, so everyone is ready. I could quite comfortably make seven or eight changes, it wouldn’t weaken the side one iota. 

“In every single position, if someone is injured or gets suspended or has a dip in form, then we have quality to replace them.” 

Tuesday’s man-of-the-match Zane Banton did everything right on the night, except score when he hit the post in a one-on-one situation with Albion keeper Boaz Myhill beaten.

That won’t define the 20-year-old, his manager claimed.

Jones said: “You wouldn’t chastise him for missing the chance, he puts himself in those positions. His overall performance was excellent. His work rate was excellent, it would have been good to see him top it off with a goal, but we’d also like him to score because it puts him further in the frame. 

“Striker are usually judged on the amount of goals they score, but his overall performance was outstanding. Within a week of being here I realised he was a different talent.”

This weekend’s opponents have settled into life in League Two fairly well, and sit on 17 points, outside of the playoff places on goal difference.  

The Alex have a frontline pairing of Chris Dagnall and Ryan Lowe, both of which Jones said he is fairly familiar.

He said: “Dagnall and Lowe I know very well, I played against them! 

“They’re just a point behind us, they have had a decent start. They have come down but there is stability there, they haven’t made massive changes, they have signed one or two, especially the front two, very clever. They know this level inside out, they’ll be a real threat.”

The Hatters have only lost one at home in the League so far this season, a statistic he hopes will give Town fans hope for this weekend and the future.

“Our home form has been really good,” Jones said. “I think we have put in some really good performances, I think they [the fans] can see a squad now that they are really proud of. They think wow, this is a squad they can see going for a few years and they’re putting in shifts and performance that fans want to see. I am excited to be the manager of this club.

“At times when we don’t win games it’s because we haven’t been us, when I am happy with our performance we usually win games, so that is what we are concentrating on.”

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