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NJ: THE YOUNG ONES ARE EXCEPTIONAL

29 September 2016

Nathan Jones spoke to the press ahead of his side's match against Cheltenham Town

The Hatters fielded what is believed to be their youngest ever team on Tuesday night against Hartlepool United, with an average age of 21 years and six months, but boss Nathan Jones says it was an easy decision to make with the amount of ability the youth players have.

After going 1-0 down on the stroke of half-time against the Monkey Hangers, Alan Sheehan equalised from a free-kick on the edge of the home side’s box to level the score and earn the Town a point.

In defence alongside the Irishman, 17-year-old Akin Famewo and 18-year-old James Justin gave solid performances that have earned plaudits from many.

Jones was more than happy with the way they played, as he is able to select a first team squad with a number of academy graduates in the mix.

Speaking at his Press conference at Ely Way this afternoon, said: “The young ones that have come through the ranks here are exceptional. We are probably holding them back if anything in terms of giving them an opportunity, but when they come, they take them. They never let us down.

“They keep learning and if they keep that hunger, then they have got a chance. They have got a pathway and enough ability.

“They won’t be going anywhere, they are happy here. We have shown in the last transfer window that we are not a selling club. It showed we are progressing as a club and that we are taking forward strides, big ones, on and off the pitch. They are a really grounded group.”

Loan signing Alex Gilliead made his first start for the first team after arriving on transfer deadline day from Newcastle United a month ago. Jones was clearly impressed by the Geordie’s performance.

“I felt at times he was excellent,” Jones said. ”I know what he has because I have watched him since he was 16 years old, so I always had an eye on him. He is a thoroughbred, and I genuinely believe he will become a Premier League player.”

This Saturday the Hatters travel to Cheltenham Town to face a side managed by Gary Johnson, who once signed Jones for Yeovil.

The Welshman is looking forward to being reunited with his former gaffer, but he knows the difficulty his side face when they visit Whaddon Road and he believes the supporters are aware of that too.

He said: “Gary signed me for Yeovil, I worked with him briefly for two or three months before he left for Bristol City. Then I worked with him as a manager when he came back to Yeovil.

“I think our fans are quite well educated, they know there is no easy game in this league and Cheltenham are a really tough team to play against. I have watched three of their games and they are a real tough team.”

Although the Hatters currently sit in second place in the Sky Bet League Two table, Jones’ side have only kept two clean sheets in ten matches.

When asked about it, Jones said he was aware of it, but he felt his side were more likely to concede because of the positive style of play his team takes on.

He said: “We definitely haven’t got as many clean sheets as we would have liked. Last year we were less expansive and didn’t score as many.

“This year we are trying to get the balance. I think we aren’t that far off the top scorers in the league, with that there comes an element of risk that you don’t keep a clean sheet.

“I want to be keeping clean sheets, because if you want to be successful in this league you have to. You’re not always going to score goals.”

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