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The Hatters take on the Stags this weekend

24 August 2017

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Town boss Nathan Jones is expecting a tough test this weekend when his side travel up to the One Call Stadium to take on fellow promotion hopefuls Mansfield Town.

This week has marked the first of the new season when Jones' side haven't had a Tuesday night game, and the Welshman said he has been pleased with what he has seen on the training ground in the full week he has spent with the players.

"It's been a productive weekend," Jones explained. "The start of the season is quite hectic, six games inside one month.

"But it's nice to get a bit of time with them and to look after them and get everyone right at it."

Prior to the gaffer's press call, the news broke of James Justin's England under-20s call up, something Jones is over the moon to see after the 19-year-old returned to full fitness following a hamstring problem.

Jones continued: "James has been called up again, this time to the under-20s, which we are immensely proud of. We hope he doesn't come back injured, but we are very proud in terms of one of our players being called up to England – we are very proud."

The trip to take on the Stags on Saturday is arguably one of the Hatters' toughest away trips of the season given the calibre of player Steve Evans has at his disposal. However, Jones is confident that his side can go there and get a positive result.

He said: "It will be a tough afternoon for everyone to do with the club. We are ready for that. They are the pre-season favourites, they were the bookies favourites with the signings they have made. We know it'll be a tough game, but we go there in good form and it's the test you want.

"They're good pedigree signings they have made. It can take time for those to gel and to get a full value from them. They have had a good start, a decent start and they will be a difficult side to beat, they will be a force.

"But it's three games in. we were top of the league this time last year, after the first game and everything. So it's about continuity and getting your signings to bed in. We are exactly the same. We have made some key signings, people like Marek Stech, Alan McCormack, Andrew Shinnie, James Collins – right through the spine of the team we have strengthened. It's going to take time for them to gel as well. We are all finding our feet at the moment and I am sure we will get the best out of our respective squads."

A lot has been made of the squad that Jones has been assembled – given the quality of arrivals, a lot of figures have been bandied about that the sums the Hatters have forked out. However, Jones has played this down, saying his side have only pushed the boat out financially in their pursuit of James Collins.

"I am not too sure about the big money, we have signed well," the gaffer continued. "We are well, well in credit in terms of what we have spent and what we have recouped, but we have paid what we have had to pay for certain ones.

"We haven't had to pay massive amounts. There's only a few fees we have actually had to pay and a lot of those are for players like Jack Stacey.

"There is only one we would call reasonably big and that's James Collins. So that's not factually correct [to say we have spent a huge amount of money], but that's part and parcel of that. I think we have spent wisely and got value for money."

iFollow Hatters subscribers can watch Jones' full press conference by clicking here.

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