Hatters boss Graeme Jones praised striker James Collins after his most recent call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad, with the manager believing his player has adapted well to the second tier.
With five goals in 15 league appearances this season, the 28-year-old has 50 goals in 108 appearances for the Town, spanning across the Championship, League One and League Two.
Jones said: “He has made it on merit [into the Ireland squad]. You have got to assess the squad overall. Talking about chances he has missed, James Collins could have had 15 goals and the beauty for me is he is there. He is going to score goals because he keeps getting in the box, he keeps being brave.
“That was the disappointment at the weekend and that hasn’t been there previously and that’s what he needs to manage. But James Collins has done fantastically. He has adapted to a new league and a new international career, nobody said it was going to be straightforward and nobody said it was going to be easy.
“It’s challenging and that’s what you want as a player. When you’re too good for League One you get 25 goals, that’s normally the measurement. The challenge is can you go and do the same thing at the next level up, which is the Championship, but it doesn’t come over night. Come the end of the season, you never know. So we just keep working.”
The gaffer has been keeping an eye on the reactions of his players following the defeat to Nottingham Forest at the weekend – a loss in which he wasn’t pleased the performance.
“I think the players know me by now, I wont go away from being honest. Maybe I say too much sometimes, I don’t know, but I am not really bothered, because it’s the truth and I just felt let down by two or three performances and them players know that. it’s the first time really, I am not talking about physical effort here – physical effort has been here the whole time. It was other things.
“That’s what this week has been about [the reaction]. I have been looking at everyone’s reaction – how they are mentally and physically, are they fresh, are they ready to roll their sleeves up for the battle, for the fight. That’s still ongoing.”
On loan forward Izzy Brown hobbled off after 33 minutes with what appeared to be a hamstring problem, with Jones providing an update on the 22-year-old.
“Izzy has trained today outside, not with the group, but was desperate to get involved with the finishing at the end, so it’s a good sign. When you reflect on the weekend, it doesn’t help when you lose him after 30 minutes.
“when I watched the game back, he had four phases of play and a second phase free-kick that Dan Potts nearly scores from. The guy is on one leg, he’s injured and he still has an influence on the game. so he was a big miss for us, but we still conceded two stupid goals that could have been prevented. I don’t think Nottingham Forest earned them, we gave them to them, that my disappointment.
“It’s about getting the balance right between can he give us something, can he start, can he come on as sub or do we have to look after him? We are 48 hours out from the game, it’s a long time and I don’t want to make decisions on him today. I will make a decision on him as close to the game as we possibly we can.”