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Checkatrade Trophy

#EveryGameMatters: Nathan Jones

10 September 2018

Having presided over Luton Town's journey to the semi-finals of the inaugural Checkatrade Trophy in 2016/17 in his first season in charge, Hatters boss Nathan Jones is plotting another successful campaign.

Are you happy with the way the competition has developed over the last couple of seasons?
I really like the competition, it's an excellent competition and it's getting better. The format early on had certain flaws but they were ironed out and it's a really competitive competition. Sides are really now seeing it's a real way to Wembley and it's also a way to go [up] against some good, young Premier League players, and it's a realistic competition to win for League One and League Two teams.

Everyone wants to get as far as they can and be ambitious in the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup, but this is the realistic way to have a cup run and it gets very interesting towards the latter rounds. We've enjoyed the competition and always treated it with respect we felt it deserved.

As disappointed as you were at the time with Luton Town's experience in the opening matches of the new format, do you feel those initial challenges you faced have benefited the competition as a whole because of the conversations that followed?

We feel we've got a strong squad in terms of in terms of 20 outfield players that can compete for a first-team place; it's impossible to play one XI for the full season so when we had the Checkatrade Trophy competition [in the first season] we were going to places like Gillingham with a strong squad.

A lot of them were young players who didn't play on the Saturday but they were strong enough to have played on Saturday, and at any given time would have played, but we felt it was a real opportunity because we are a developing club and we like to develop young players here. We've had a tradition of that, and I've got a background in that and so do my staff, so we wanted to test our players so they would be ready for league action.

We treated the competition with the utmost respect; we won our group, we won games that we were fined for and we progressed to the semi-final, albeit in a competition that we were sanctioned for, but now it seems to be a lot better and I think the competition will flourish.

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