Jones: It's a privilege to kick off the Football League season
Luton chief Graeme Jones thinks his players should feel ‘privileged’ at the opportunity of kicking off the English Football League season, when they take on Middlesbrough in August.
With the game brought forward to Friday night at 7.45pm for the Sky TV cameras, it means that the fixture will be the first of the new campaign.
Jones said: “I think it’s a great fixture for the club.
“We need to feel privileged that we are kicking off the English Football League season, in the Championship.
“There’ll be a lot of scrutiny on the game, but we need to embrace that.
“I know I certainly am. I think it’s a great opening day fixture.”
Jones did think there were certain benefits to the game being played earlier than the rest of the division, as he can run the rule over Town’s next two opponents, Cardiff and West Bromwich Albion.
He continued: They are all tough.
“I don’t really project or look ahead and say ‘oh, if we could beat them, or get a draw there, that’ll be a tough fixture’.
“I just think you have to assess every fixture on its own merit.
“The good thing about playing on the Friday night is that on the Saturday I’ll be able to go to Wigan and watch Wigan-Cardiff, so I’ll have a good idea what’s needed against Cardiff the following week at their place, as there is nothing better than seeing live football.
“Then at 5.30 that night, I can see West Brom on the TV as well, so within 24 hours I’ll have taken in a lot of information about our team and the next two oppositions as well, so it’s a good period really. I just see it as a positive.”
Cardiff were relegated out of the Premier League along with Huddersfield Town, and Luton finish off their opening month by hosting the Terriers.
Jones added: “We play Cardiff and Huddersfield in that first block, so you’ve got two Premier League clubs.
“But I worked at a club last year that had just been relegated from the Premier League, and even though they are Premier League players in name, there is a big challenge to readapt to the Championship, so I don’t see that as a bad thing, playing them early.
“I think it’s a good opportunity, if I’m being honest, but we assess all games on their own individual merits
“You know that they’ve got the Premier League quality at any given moment to hurt you, so we just need to be ready."
Luton also have to trips to Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley, who came up with with the Hatters last season, in August, as Jones added: "Barnsley they’ll know more about, but Sheffield Wednesday is just a real traditional English football club, and it’s such a great stadium still – Hillsborough.
"We went there last October with West Brom and you realise the power of the place.
"I’ve seen 48,000 people in that stadium and they’ve got some fanbase.
"They finished the season really, really strong with Steve (Bruce).
"He knows his way around the Championship, so I won’t expect anything other than a really competitive fixture."