Retained list led to some ‘tough decisions’ for Hatters boss

Luton Town chief Nathan Jones
Luton Town chief Nathan Jones
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Hatters boss Nathan Jones announced his retained list at the weekend, with five players leaving Kenilworth Road when their contracts expire.

Craig Mackail-Smith, Danny Green, Stephen O’Donnell, Zane Banton and Liam Gooch were all told their futures lie elsewhere, although Dan Potts and Craig King were offered new deals, while defender Frankie Musonda was given an extra 12 months too.

Speaking exclusive to the News/Gazette about his thought process, Jones said: “It’s always difficult because I’ve had a group of players who have given me everything, have worked really hard and to make tough decisions on those, it isn’t easy.

“But if we want to take the club forward we have to make them and we’re prepared to do that.”

O’Donnell left the club after making 72 appearances in two years, as Jones said: “Stephen’s done well for us on the whole, he really has.

“But the emergence of James Justin and James going above him in the pecking order, it’s silly to curtail his career like that.

“It gives us an opportunity to freshen up, something we will look to do, as we’ve got very high hopes for James Justin too.”

Winger Green couldn’t add to his 30 games and six goals for the club, as he missed the whole of the season due to his leg break suffered against Northampton in April of last year.

Jones continued: “Danny’s been very unfortunate. He had a year out with injury, and it came at a time when he was really trying to impact on us, so that’s a real sad one.

“We’ve invited Danny to come back and continue his rehabilitation for as long as it takes, to make sure we give him the best possible chance of continuing his career at the highest level possible.

“Once he gets his fitness back, then everything can be moved on from there.

“We’ve made him available and released him, we wont renew his contract, but we’ll make sure we do all the due diligence as a club, because one, we’re that type of club and two, Danny’s earned that.”

Mackail-Smith was another whose Town career was hindered by injury after breaking his leg against Plymouth in March 2016.

He came back this term, scoring once in the Checkatrade Trophy, before heading to former club Peterborough on loan, as Jones continued: “Craig’s been a great lad, it hasn’t quite worked out for him here, he picked up a lot of injuries at the wrong time, which meant that he wasn’t one that we could take forward.

“I’m sure that he’ll continue to ply his trade at a good level and I imagine that he’ll get a few offers.

“But in what we already have in terms of (Danny) Hylton, (Isaac) Vassell and (Jack) Marriott, we have three energy pace ones that were above Macka in the pecking order we felt, so that’s what it was.”