Jones urges fans to back midfielder Lee

Hatters midfielder Olly Lee
Hatters midfielder Olly Lee

Hatters boss Nathan Jones has urged fans to have faith in midfielder Olly Lee after he came in for a fair amount of criticism from supporters during the 3-2 defeat to Cheltenham Town on Tuesday night.

The midfielder endured a mixed reception when replacing the injured Jonathan Smith at half-time, with a number taking to social media sites to voice their less than positive opinions on the former Birmingham and West Ham player afterwards.

He’s a good player for Luton, and we’ve got rid of a lot of players who’ve been far less effective.

Nathan Jones

However, when asked what he would say to any supporters booing their own players, Jones said: “Well I played 593 games and to be honest, a good 400 of them I was hammered.

“That doesn’t bother me, but just have a look at what he does, what type of team we are and what we do.

“He’s contributed lots and lots to us as does every player and the reason he’s here is because he keeps contributing.

“If you come and see him day in day out and how he is and what we have, he’s a good player for Luton, and we’ve got rid of a lot of players who’ve been far less effective.

“Fans might say why did you do this? Why did you do that? I ask them to trust me on our recruitment and on what we do because we have a better squad, have a fitter squad, a stronger squad, a hungrier squad, a more valuable squad than when I came in.

“Anyone who’s still here and continues to still be here must have something. And maybe I’m blind or maybe I am as much an idiot as other people think, but just trust me on the players, because we’ve built a side they can be proud of.

“Yes, we can frustrate at times, but we have to remember as well, the sides change for Luton Town that don’t change elsewhere. So we’ve built a reputation now we have to live up to that.”

Jones didn’t think that any reaction from supporters had been having a negative effect on the 25-year-old though, as he continued: “No, if you see the other day, he was confident, he’ll give the ball away, like anyone else did.

“Jack Marriott gave the ball away 20 times the other night, no-one booed him because he’s a certain type of player.

“The other night wasn’t quite Jack’s night, wasn’t so much space and he needs that space.

“Other players gave the ball away on regular occasions, it happens, but they want to get on it, want to keep doing the right things and that’s what I want.

“So anyone wants to boo, boo me, hammer me. I set the tactics, they just follow me. That’s what I’ve got a got, a great group that wants to follow me.

When asked how he felt Lee, who set up Town’s second goal with a drilled free kick that was turned past his own keeper by Liam Davis, had got on in this 45 minutes on the pitch, Jones said: “I felt he was brave in the game, he got on the ball, it’s difficult to play the way we do.

“We needed a different option the other night that we didn’t quite have on the bench, apart from putting Scott Cuthbert up there.

“So what we asked him to do was be brave, keep getting on the ball, keep taking chances and that was my mandate for them.

“They kept on doing and to be fair to Olly, he’s a brave kid, and he set up the second goal from a great ball in.

“To go and have that technique to drive it, anything can happen. You catch one of those, it ends up in the stands, you get booed off, but he didn’t and he showed great technique and great quality.

“That’s why he’s here, because he’s a brave kid, he wants to get on the ball.

“Yes, sometimes he can be a bit more penetrative and we can as a team, but this is how we set up and we control games.

“We haven’t lost many games since I’ve been here, and when we do lose games like that, we’ve built something here and we’re building.

“He’s been part of that and I’m proud of him, I’m proud of my players, how brave they are.

“If there’s anything from the other night, about what we could have done different that was on me, that’s my problem, that’s my fault.

“Because I should have done something more, but my players gave me everything except a little bit of know-how defending counter attacks, that was the only thing I can question them on the other night.”

Lee was called upon to replace Smith after he suffered a foot injury and might keep him out of this weekend’s trip to Grimsby, as Jones added: “We’ll see because he’s had some stitches in it, so it’s a gash, it’s a difficult one.

“So just to inform the fan that was hammering me about my decision to take Jonathan Smith off the other day, it was enforced, I’m not as much of an idiot as people think.

“But he’s picked up that knock, it was a typical committed challenge from him and he just couldn’t play on.

“It must have been something serious, because he’s a little bit of a warrior to be fair, and sometimes you’d have to cut his head off for him not to finish a game.

“But hopefully he’ll recover in time and be available.”