Rutter confident Hatters can do a bit better than just avoid relegation

James Collins will be determined to prove he can score goals in the Championship
James Collins will be determined to prove he can score goals in the Championship

Former assistant manager Steve Rutter believes that the Hatters can avoid being a one-hit wonder in the Championship this season.

The Hatters won promotion to the second tier of English football after being crowned League One champions last term.

Although the bookmakers make Town 5/1 to be relegated, Rutter doesn’t see it that way.

He said: “A lot will depend on what happens with players coming and going.

“People say they’ll lose James Justin, but you’ve got Dan Potts, who to be fair, was playing left back until he got injured and James couldn’t get a game, so they’ve got some quality players there.

“If they add a couple to it, I think there’s players there who have earned the right to try and prove themselves at Championship level.

“When you look at Sonny (Bradley) and Matty (Pearson), I think they can do it.

“Andrew Shinnie, James Collins will be desperate to play and show he can score goals at the next level up, so I think they’ve got more than people give them credit for.

“Having spoken to Gary (Sweet, chief executive) and everyone beforehand, I think if it’s a season they finish anywhere outside the relegation zone, they’ll see as a success.

“I think they’re capable of finishing a little bit above that, probably lower mid-table, find their feet and give themselves a chance.

“It’s a few years until the stadium gets built, and that will obviously make a big difference.

“The training ground is getting redeveloped, they’re looking at getting a development squad together, they’re doing all the things that a club that’s growing organically and properly would do.

“They’re not rushing to do anything stupid, they’re not going to spend millions of pounds on players they can’t afford, getting relegated back into Division One with a huge debt, they’re too clever to do that.

“They will make sure the club is well protected, it’s well set up and irrespective of what happens next year, the following year they’ll be in a better place again, I can absolutely guarantee that.”

Although Town are led by a manager in his first season as a number one in Graeme Jones, he won’t be alone in that fact, with a number of new faces in the Championship.

Rutter believes he can be a success at Kenilworth Road too, adding: “There’s a few, you look at Stevie Cooper at Swansea City who’s just gone in, Pep’s (Clotet) gone in at Birmingham, (Jonathan) Woodgate’s gone in at Middlesbrough and there seems to be a trend now.

“Graeme’s cut his teeth, he’s gone through the mill, he’s gone into professional football, out of professional football, into college lecturing, back into coaching, he’s gone through the levels.

“At some point in time you’ve got to be given that opportunity, same as Nathan (Jones) was.

“What he needs around him is a good support structure and he’s got that.

"He’s got a brilliant support structure with Mick (Harford), Kev Dearden doing the keeping, the S and C (strength and conditioning) lads are terrific.

“Then behind the scenes he’s got a board that understand exactly the position he’s in, financially, professionally, and will support him every inch of the way.

“Their ambitions and measure of success is realistic to what they know they can achieve, so they’re not going to be saying to him, ‘get us in the top six,’ they’re going to be giving him a realistic opportunity.

“As I would imagine they see it as a three year project to get to the next stage of the club’s development and it will good for him, it will be a real test.

“I think they’ll get a few beatings here and there, but I also think they’ll upset a few teams and I’m fully confident that they’ll stay up.

“It would be nice if they have a nice little cup run along the way, just to keep the momentum, but just to be back in the Championship after so long is massive really and everybody should enjoy it.”