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Calling Manchester United ‘leggy’ diminishes what Luton did, says Nathan Jones

Luton Town v Manchester United – Carabao Cup – Third Round – Kenilworth Road
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Luton boss Nathan Jones has dismissed suggestions Manchester United’s players were still lacking match sharpness in their Carabao Cup meeting on Tuesday.

Having opened their season later than everyone else following their run to the Europa League semi-finals, United lost at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer bemoaned a lack of pre-season training and made 10 changes for the 3-0 third-round Carabao Cup win at Kenilworth Road.

Juan Mata opened the scoring with a penalty on the stroke of half-time but the visitors could not finish off the tie until both Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood scored after coming off the bench.

Once again after the game, Solskjaer said his players still “need match time” to improve their sharpness.

But Jones, who made nine alterations of his own, refuted claims that their top-flight opponents had appeared “leggy” during the 90 minutes.

“I’m not sure they were leggy,” he said.

“I think that diminishes what we did. They haven’t had too much of a rest but I don’t think finely tuned athletes will lose that much sharpness.

“At Premier League standard maybe they are slightly behind Crystal Palace but I don’t know, I can’t comment on them but give me £500million to spend and in three and a half weeks, I will prepare a team for you.

“The big thing for me is we made nine changes – we are probably on one of the lowest budgets in the Championship.

“But to make nine changes and still be competitive and show the work we do every week is coming to fruition… It shows we are in a good place – that is the thing to take.”

Nigeria international Odion Ighalo started in attack for United, as only captain Harry Maguire survived from the Palace defeat.

Ighalo could not open his own account for the season but the striker, on loan from Shanghai Shenhua, feels the result and the extra game-time against the Hatters can better prepare United for their return to Premier League action at Brighton on Saturday.

“We were disappointed at the weekend because we didn’t win the game against Crystal Palace,” he told manutd.com.

“We only had one week to prepare for that game; I think they had been preparing for four weeks. So it can tell a bit. But, now we’ve won this game, I think it’s a boost for us.

“It gives us more confidence to go to this weekend’s game. Hopefully we’ll win this weekend and start on a good note in the Premier League.

“You can see we are getting fitter and everybody’s getting the sharpness. Everyone’s getting the game-time, getting fitter and fitter in every game.

“Now we go to the next game and have some minutes again and keep getting better and better.”