Jones looking to promote from the academy while at Luton

Town manager Graeme Jones is definitely looking to promote from the academy whenever possible during his time in charge of the Hatters.

Saturday, 8th June 2019, 10:54 am
Town defender James Justin is one of the main successes from the academy in recent years

The 49-year-old was appointed last month and has a history of helping to bring through young players when with Roberto Martinez at Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Everton.

He also did the same as number two to Darren Moore at West Bromwich Albion, although knows it will have to be a careful process with Luton.

Jones said: “They’ve got to be good enough, like James Justin came in and proved he’s well and truly good enough.

“There’s nothing better than for any supporter to see one of their own in the first team, if they’re good enough.

“I’ll certainly be promoting them, but long term, I think as a club we need to get stronger and producing our own players year on year.

“It’s recruitment and then it’s pre-season and then it’s being competitive but I will get round to the U23s and the youth team and the academy with Andy Awford, as I think it’s important at a club like Luton Town that we produce our own.”

On some of the names that Jones has played a part in giving a chance to over the years, he continued: “There was many, but the ones that people would know, we gave Joe Allen (Wales international) his debut at 16, we gave Callum McManaman his debut as a young man for Wigan.

“We gave Kieran Dowell his debut along with Jonjoe Kenny and many others, Brendan Galloway too, they would be the well known ones (at Everton).

“At West Brom, Rekeem Harper was playing regularly in our team as an 18-year-old.

“Jonathan Leko, Kyle Edwards, Sam Field, Harvey Barnes was playing for us, where maybe a lot of clubs wouldn’t have taken him, he was 19 when we took him.

“So I’m used to it and I like it, but it can’t be too many at the same time.

“It’s like you can’t have too many senior pros at the same time, there’s always the blend and the balance that you look for.”

To do that with Luton, then Jones knows that an U23 side must be created in order to give the likes of midfielder Arthur Read, who could see his opportunities with the first team restricted this term after promotion to the Championship, a chance of making it.

He added: “It is, long term, we have to be going down that route, we really do need to be producing our own.

“I spoke to Arthur, spoke to him about the jump from what was reserve team football last season to League One, it’s now the Championship.

“There has to be something that bridges the gap and we’ve got to find the right games programme and the right set up that gives these boys a chance of making an impression on the first team.”