Jones admits he could use Justin in midfield

Hatters defender James Justin
Hatters defender James Justin

Hatters boss Nathan Jones admitted he might consider using teenager James Justin as a midfielder to increase his chances of breaking back into the first team this season.

The 19-year-old has been utilised solely as a full back or wing back in his time since becoming a pro at Kenilworth Road, although his versatility means he is capable of playing almost anywhere across the centre of the pitch too, something he did while part of the U18s.

After suffering a hamstring injury while with the England U19s over the summer, Justin has seen Jack Stacey thrive on the right hand side of Town’s defence, the signing from Reading being one of the Town's stand out players so far.

With that in mind, when asked if he could push Justin further up the pitch, Jones said: “I might do, but our midfield have been good as well, so we’ve got good competition.

“As James Justin progresses in his career, then he’s going to have stern competition like this at whatever club he goes to.

“It’s a little bit unfortunate because in the summer he went away with England and picked up an injury which ruined his pre-season.

“He’s now finding his feet and getting back to the levels we need him, so he’s just going to have to compete and he will because he’s a great kid.

“If the opportunity arises and we can play him in midfield then we might do that, but the competition for midfield is very, very stiff, because whatever team I play, there’s four or five competing outside the ones I play.

“So competition is very good and we’re very pleased with that as we’re going to need that.”

With Justin equally comfortable on his left foot, then on whether he could also compete with Dan Potts and Jack Senior for the full back role on the opposite flank, Jones continued: “Of course, we’ve got that competition, but they’re two young, really energetic right backs and are competing.

"There’s a long way to go and we have four very, very good full backs who are all competing.

Although Justin is yet to feature in the league campaign, missing the trip to Lincoln due to England U20 duty, Jones admitted that he hasn’t caused any kind of problems off the field.

The boss added: "The reason he hasn’t played as much as he wanted to is because he picked up an injury on international duty, let’s make no bones about that.

"I’m sure he would have played far more games for us, regardless of the form of Jack Stacey, but we had to be careful with him in the initial weeks.

"He played 45 minutes against Tottenham, couldn’t play many more and then we pick up good results and then he’s away again with England, so it’s been a bit of a stopstart.

"Once it all settles down, look James Justin will play enough games for this football club. It’s a big year for him and he knows that and he’s competed very, very well and he’s an outstanding professional,

"There’s a number of positions he can play, but he just adds that competition.”