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NATHAN JONES ON HIS PROMOTION HOPES AND STEVEN CAULKER TRAINING WITH THE TOWN

29 January 2018

Town boss Nathan Jones said his side are not setting any specific targets as they plot their promotion from Sky Bet League Two, as well as confirming former Tottenham Hotspur and QPR defender Steven Caulker is training with the Hatters at his pre-Wycombe press conference this lunchtime.

The win over Grimsby Town on Saturday moved Jones' team nine points clear at the top of the fourth tier. The situation is in stark contrast to the position Town found themselves in at this stage of the transfer window last season, with Jones more than happy with the progression his team have shown.

He said: "We're very pleased with where we are. We were just reminiscing about deadline day last season. We were beaten by Cheltenham, we had lost Christian Walton and it looked a different table and different atmosphere.

"We couldn't be in a better place now, but we don't take that for granted. We've got some tough games coming up and we've got to make sure we stay as we are."

The difference couldn't reflect any better than in the current league position – whilst the defeat to the Robins a year ago saw Town slip to fifth. Jones though would happily accept any kind of promotion now, whether that's finishing first or third, as long as his side achieve their target of going up.

"We've got to get promoted, that's the thing," the Welshman explained when asked if he'd be setting his players new challenges, such as reaching a 100-point target as an example.

"If someone offered us a guarantee to finish third, we'd take it because that's the goal. Anything else is a bonus. We have got to get promoted. That's our focus, nothing to do with 100 points or goals.

"As we've seen, it's been a difficult month. It's not been a champagne and roses month with real fluency. We've really had to dig in and grind them out – we went down to ten men against Lincoln, but we dug out a win without being as fluent as we normally are even though we were excellent.

"The Morecambe one was again, another ground out one, and Saturday at Grimsby was even more so. Even though we're picking up maximum points in games, we're having to show a different side to us. It's not about that, it's about continuing to win as many games as we can, if we do that then we stand a good chance.

"I think we're in a good position, we're in pole position. It's just there's a lot of football to be played, 17 games. We've got play some difficult sides, we've got some difficult games away from home, difficult sides at home. There's going to be a lot of twists and turns."

Although on Thursday Jones denied one-time England defender Caulker had been training with the Hatters, the gaffer today confirmed that since Friday, the man who played under the 44-year-old when he was assistant to Terry Skiverton at Yeovil Town, on loan from Spurs, has linked up with the Town to regain fitness.

Jones continued: "I've known Steven for a number of years and I've got a very good relationship, a personal relationship with him because he came to us, myself and Terry Skiverton – he speaks very highly of myself and Terry, he was the one who gave him his debut.

"He was a young lad when he came to us. He needed guidance, needed that continued fatherly figure in a football sense and we gave him that at Yeovil.

"He stayed in touch and it was great to see his progression. We had himself, Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend – it was great to see them all go and play for England. So we've had a personal relationship and I see in recent times he's been slightly troubled, but he wants to get back to the level he was.

"Looking at him, he's a real physical specimen. I know what type of character he is. So we're just giving him a little platform to train and to get back to that level and that's what we've done.

"He's enjoyed our environment, because it's a good one, we know that. He's come in and enjoyed himself and we're going to get him back to somewhere near where he wants to be."


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