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WATCH | GRAEME'S PRE-MIDDLESBROUGH PRESS CONFERENCE

See the gaffer's press conference from this afternoon on iFollow

1 August 2019

Town boss Graeme Jones believes the stature of the Hatters means the Championship is a minimum of where they should be, ahead of tomorrow night's season opener against Middlesbrough.

Having taken over following promotion from Sky Bet League One, Jones has overseen seven new signings come through the door, as he prepares his side for tomorrow night's game at Kenilworth Road.

He said: “I think being in the Championship is minimal for a club of Luton’s stature. I think everybody at the club and the supporters feel that as a minimum they are back to where they belong. But it’s going to be a wonderful challenge, and one we are all looking forward to.

“I keep getting asked this question, ‘where do you think you’re going to finish in the league?’ and I really don’t know. If you know then maybe you’re a better man than me, you should be doing my job!

“It’s something I have always done as an assistant and something I will carry on as a manager, is to get the best out of every individual and collectively as a group and that wont change. Where that takes us you’ll have to wait and see next May.

“I have been delighted [with the preparations for the new season] – apart from Saturday. I was disappointed with Saturday’s performance. I think it was a mixture of playing in fatigue and coming up against a really good Premier League outfit. But I am not looking back now, I am looking forward. As far as pre-season goes, we have had 56 sessions, 57th tonight. The boys have had one day off in 30 training days, so I think we are prepared and I am really looking forward to seeing that energy, that we didn’t play with on Saturday, apparent tomorrow evening.

Whilst pleased with his new signings, Jones was disappointed to see flying full-backs James Justin and Jack Stacey head to the Premier League, given the success they have had in the Hatters’ side in recent seasons.

“I haven’t been happy with what has gone!” Jones continued. “You don’t want to lose James or Jack who are two wonderful boys and wonderful servants of the club. But you can’t stand in their way either, with the two Premier League options for them both.

“As much as you don’t want to lose them, you have to react, maybe playing a different way and that’s my task, that’s my job, that’s why I wanted to be a manager. From a recruitment point of view, we have retained Kaz and brought in another six. Kaz wasn’t retainable always, so I class him as another signing.

“So we have managed to get seven through the door and I don’t think we are finished yet. We have still got some work to do in the next seven days. My attention is for tomorrow night’s game only. And then when that’s gone, we speak to Mick and we speak to Kevin Reeves and we will start thinking about other players.

When asked about what the departure of James Justin and Jack Stacey, the former Everton and West Brom assistant boss was more than happy with the options he now has at right-back, with Martin Cranie and Josh Neufville providing compeititon for that position.

“I am not concerned about the right-back area with Martin Cranie playing there. I think Martin out of everybody looked fatigued on Friday, maybe it showed a little bit, he is 32 going on 33, but he has been exceptional in pre-season. I have got no worries when it comes to him and performing in that position.

“[It’s not the priority position to fill with a new signing], not with Martin Cranie there. Josh Neufville has done fantastic in pre-season as a young, powerful right-back. We have adjusted his position from right-wing and he’s a tough boy. A strong character. One-v-ones he is as good as I have seen. So it’s an area we are looking at, but it’s not an area I am concerned with.”


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