Stacey knows he faces a real battle with Justin for right back slot

Hatters defender Jack Stacey
Hatters defender Jack Stacey

Town right back Jack Stacey knows he has to remain on top of his game if he is going to keep James Justin out of the starting 11 for the foreseeable future.

The summer signing from Reading got the nod over Luton’s young starlet after Justin suffered a hamstring injury when training with the England U19s recently.

Stacey has since caught the eye with some sparkling displays, but is well aware he can’t start taking anything for granted with Justin now fit again, saying: “He’s (Justin) come back from injury, I know what a good player he is from playing against him last season and in training.

“There’s competition for places all round the squad and that can only be a good thing overall.

“It shows the depth of the squad, he’s a good player and I want to play my best every game either way and I’m sure he wants to as well.

“I’m happy that I’m playing, contributing to the team. The more I play, the more I think I’m going to improve as a player, so that’s why I came here.

“I think I’ve performed well so far, you have to, especially in this squad to keep your place.

“The pressure’s on us, we know that we’re one of the best squads in the league, so the pressure is on us to perform each week and I’m happy that I have so far."

Boss Nathan Jones is delighted with the battle for the right back berth too, which is something he was keen to happen in every position when recruiting over the summer.

He said: “We’ve got competition in all places, everyone has to compete.

“It’s frustrating for James, as he didn’t have a pre-season so we haven’t been able to rush him back since the minor injury picked up that just lingered from the England trip.

“That was unfortunate, but thankfully we have a very good replacement in Jack Stacey, so we’re pleased with that.”

Justin, who was called up to the England U20 squad yesterday, has seen the club turn down big money moves to the Championship this season, but when asked if he would be disappointed with a place on the bench, Jones said: “I think that would be disrespectful to Jack Stacey.

"We have two fantastic full backs now. James would have probably played more this season but he hasn’t had a pre-season so we haven’t rushed him.

“He played against Tottenham which was good, we had to limit his game time and ironically, he’s probably going to play longer for England than he has for us this season.

“But we’ve got to make sure that he gets there safely, in terms of levels and it’s a long season.“We’re three games in, it’s not like its disaster time. He believes in what we do, we believe we’ve got a fantastic young full back in James and one in Jack, so it’s great to see them both competing.”