Hatters boss Nathan Jones reserved special praise for teenager James Justin on his full debut for the club during last night’s stunning EFL Cup victory over Aston Villa at Kenilworth Road.
The 17-year-old whose only previous first team experience was just seven minutes against Exeter City on the final day of the campaign, was handed his start due to Dan Potts’ suspension and injury to Alan Sheehan.
However, Justin, who starred for the youth team last year, didn’t look out of place for a second, named the sponsor’s man of the match in a hugely encouraging display both defensively and going forward, as Jones said: “I thought he was absolutely outstanding, I mean outstanding doesn’t do him justice, he was superb.
“He’s had a clap off everyone in the dressing room, as for a 17-year old, 18-year-old kid, coming in for his full debut, playing against Aston Villa and someone like Andre Green that’s got the reputation that he has, I thought he was excellent, and he was proactive, on the front foot.
“He went down with cramp after 60-odd minutes and then showed an absolute strength of character to keep playing. A lot would have thought ‘I’ve done enough here,’ but he didn’t, so unbelievable.
“I want to give talent a go, if it’s young or old, or ancient, I’ll give it a go. If it’s talent and right to play it, I’ll do it. We just happen to have a really good group of youngsters here that are talented and want to really play, so I want to give talent a go.”
“I thought he was absolutely outstanding, I mean outstanding doesn’t do him justice, he was superb.”Nathan Jones
Midfielder Cameron McGeehan, for whom Justin was boot boy to last season, wasn’t surprised that the youngster didn’t look out of place for a second on the big stage, saying: “I knew he had it in him. He’s a top player in training, technically very gifted.
“Obviously he needs to learn, he’s young but I’ve said it before, the young lads, when they get thrown in, they seem to rise to the occasion.
“They are good enough, it’s just about getting the chance. The gaffer has given a lot of young lads a chance and we’ve obviously got a young team anyway, so that’s a good energy to have around the camp.
“We’ll hopefully get a few more playing because I know they’re good enough. JJ has put himself right in the mix now and I’m sure that even if he doesn’t start every week, he’ll be in and around it as back-up or in there to be picked.”
Recent addition Jake Gray, who bagged his first goal for the Town on the night, was left hugely impressed by Justin’s impact on his first start too adding: “The manager has said that everyone’s going to play this season, he trusts everyone in the squad, it just shows with JJ at left back, he was unbelievable on his debut.
“In training, he’s got both feet, can play left or right, he’s a stand out of one of the younger players, so for that to be his full debut was unbelievable, he was different class.
“The manager made a point of it after the game, that you can’t get better really than that. He was unbelievable, hopefully he can keep that going and get more starts in games.”