Jones explains why Cornick and Collins had to start on the bench

James Collins saw this effort hit the post at Birmingham on Saturday
James Collins saw this effort hit the post at Birmingham on Saturday

Hatters boss Graeme Jones insisted he had little option but to drop his top two goalscorers, James Collins and Harry Cornick, to the bench for Saturday’s Championship trip to Birmingham.

The pair had started on Wednesday night against Fulham, playing 78 minutes each, an evening when the Blues could rest up having been in action 24 hours earlier.

Jones brought both just after the hour mark with the visitors trailing 1-0, Collins hitting the post from long range, before Cornick levelled the scores with virtually his first touch.

However, Town were eventually beaten 2-1 by Lukas Jutkiewiecz’s late header as Jones said of his inability to start the duo: “You’ve got to make physical decisions, especially when you’ve got 60 hours turnaround.

“They (Birmingham) don’t have to consider that, so that small window of recover has affected selection, that’s the truth.

“But I spoke to James, I spoke to Harry and said ‘be ready for you role’ and the game was close enough to affect the game.

“I talk about contribution a lot and their contribution was immense.

“The 18 boys in that dressing room, everybody contributed, you’ve seen the substitutes when they came on, were ready.

“The lack of recovery costs you your team selection, you’ve got to think differently, because James and Harry, they weren’t built to play like that for 90 minutes.

“There was so much taken out of them in the last two games, so that was the plan to be in the game, I said to them, ‘get us in the game so we can tactically make a substitution’ and it worked.”

Cornick himself said on the exertions of having to play on Wednesday and then Saturday: “It’s hard to do it, it’s not just the recovery, it’s not being able to work on the training pitch as much as we’d like.

"We like to get on to the training pitch and work on what we’re going to face, and we’ve only had one day to work on it, so it’s been hard.

"I think Birmingham played on Tuesday night, so they would have rested up, watched us Wednesday night, have a tough game against Fulham and an extra recovery.

“But it’s the way the league’s set up, we can’t pick and choose and make excuses as at the end of the day we've been beaten 2-1 and we need to improve.”

After being denied by a combination of Birmingham keeper Lee Camp and the woodwork, Collins then wasted a glorious chance at 1-1 from Izzy Brown’s excellent cross, missing the target when stretching to connect on his left foot at the far post.

It meant the Irish international has not scored now the 2-1 win at Blackburn on September 28, as Jones added: “James has been close for five games now.

“He’s got to keep believing, as he’s a goalscorer at this level and James could have had 15 goals now.”