Jones will decide whether to use Mackail-Smith as an impact sub

Luton striker Craig Mackail-Smith
Luton striker Craig Mackail-Smith
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Hatters boss Nathan Jones faces a decision whether to use fit-again striker Craig Mackail-Smith as an impact substitute against Leyton Orient this weekend.

The 32-year-old, who last played for Luton against Plymouth Argyle in March when he broke his tibia, is back in full training now and could be in the squad on Saturday.

It would be unfair to throw him into a starting line-up, but as impact he’s a real consideration.

Nathan Jones

Although Jones confirmed Mackail-Smith wouldn’t be used from the beginning, there is a chance the forward could be named on the bench.

The Town chief said: “I think to start a game then he would need a development game, we’re not expecting him to come back in, as he will need a game, but whether we look to impact him or not is another thing.

“Because he’s a fit lad anyway, he trains hard and is meticulous in his preparation, so it would be unfair to throw him into a starting line-up, but as impact he’s a real consideration.”

On just what a fully fit Mackail-Smith will add to his striking options, Jones continued: “He’s different to what we’ve got, he’s a pure runner and he provides energy and a forward thrust if you like.

“The others are a bit more technical than Macca so there’s good competition, we have good variety here, we have a good blend, different options.

“It’s not like I’m playing two exactly the same strikers, like two big men or two little ones, we have real difference and I include Jordan Cook and Zane Banton in that.

“So the variations in our striking options are wonderful, they really are. We probably lack a giant, but that’s not the way we play anyway, but apart from that I think we’ve got every base covered with our front men.

“Mackail-Smith adds to that, with the experience he’s got and the pedigree he brings, he’s an asset to any team.”

Centre half Johnny Mullins is available too after missing the last three league matches due to a hamstring injury, as Jones said: “It’s great to have him back, Johnny could have been available (against Crewe), we could have pushed him but again with the squad we have we don’t need to.

“So he’s had another full weeks training and he’s raring to go.”

Midfielder Olly Lee will miss out with suspension though and Jones feels the former Birmingham man has really upped his game since being taken off early twice in recent games.

He said: “We’re a learning club, we don’t just come out and play five a side and hope for the best, we try to educate our players and try to learn.

“As I said to Olly when he’s had rough spells or when he’s been brought off early in games it’s not because we want to punish him or anything, it’s because it’s a learning curve for him and he he’s taken things on board.

“He’s a wonderful footballer and once he plays football and he really does the things that he’s good at he’s a great asset to this club.

“Then we’re asking him to get better at the other side and if he continues to do that, then we’re all move forward.”

When asked if on-loan Newcastle midfielder Alex Gilliead had done enough to earn a start after impressing during his cameos from the bench, Jones added: “It’s a difficult decision every week I’ve got in who to play and where to play them because it’s about margins.

“I’m not saying he’s better than him, it’s not, they’re different types of players, Pelly’s (Mpanzu) different to Alex Gilliead, Jordan Cook is different to Cameron (McGeehan), but they play in the same position.

“It’s not a case of he’s better than him, so he’s playing, it’s a case of what might we need for these games.

“So they’re all vying for places and if I change in certain areas it’s not like we’re weakening because I genuinely think we have more than two sides that can actually play at this level it’s just blending them together and making a top one.”