Town boss Nathan Jones insists that his players have all put the work in to be ready for the Sky Bet Championship restart tomorrow afternoon.
The Hatters face Preston North End at Kenilworth Road, resuming their fight for survival in surreal times. The coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to football since March, but the highly anticipated return of the second tier season will see Town and the rest of the division play out the remaining nine games in a five-week period.
Despite only resuming training a few weeks ago, Jones is pleased with what he has seen from the Town players, beginning: “It’s a short, mini pre-season if you like. Three-and-a-half weeks I’ve been in. First week we were in small groups and then we’ve had three weeks to work with them. So we’ve had a little bit of a mini one (pre-season) if you like, but they’re as good as they can be, they’ve all worked very hard, all been responsive, I knew that that’s the group they are anyway, so we’re in as good a shape as we can be.
“There’s one or two little things, one or two coming back, everyone’s training, but there’s one or two who are not quite ready yet as they’ve not quite had enough training as they either had niggles before I got here or picked them up.
“We’re not far off a full squad to choose from, there’s just one or two lacking the sharpness and the match fitness to be able to be considered to start.”
There has been time to assess the players in training and match scenarios after the Hatters contested a friendly match against fellow Championship side Brentford.
“You see where players are, what kind of fitness, sharpness, mentality they have. You see a lot of that. It’s vital to do that. We’ve had in house games, you see players flourish, some don’t do quite well, and it’s totally different when it’s outside opposition.
“I know every single one of the players pretty much and worked with the majority – about 80 per cent – the others I know very, very well, so it’s a squad I know well and that was one of the big things for coming back.”
The Hatters will restart six points adrift of safety, but the manager wholeheartedly believes that ‘confidence isn’t low here’.
“Probably, lockdown came at the wrong time for Luton. It came at the wrong time for everyone, but in terms of a sporting way, it did come at the wrong time. We have to embrace that and we have to go back to that.
“The more clean-sheets we have, definitely, the more points we’ll get and the more wins we’ll achieve. If you don’t concede many and can score goals, it does increase your chances of winning.”
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