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Jones has seen an 'instant reaction' since Hart's appointment as academy director at Luton

Jones has seen an ‘instant reaction’ since Hart’s appointment as academy director at Luton

Town's academy director Paul Hart
Town’s academy director Paul Hart

Hatters boss Nathan Jones believes the appointment of Paul Hart as the club’s new academy director in April has already led to an ‘instant reaction’ at the club.

The 69-year-old had been first team coach when returning to Kenilworth Road back in June 2020 after previously being assistant manager under Jones during his first spell as manager, before being named in his new role once Andy Awford left the club.

Having had huge success in similar positions at Leeds United, here he won the FA Youth Cup twice, and brought though Harry Kewell, Jonathan Woodgate and Paul Robinson, plus Nottingham Forest and Charlton Athletic, hopes are high that he can jolt the conveyor belt of talent at Luton into action once more.

Defender James Justin is the last major success story to come through the ranks with the Hatters, leaving for a club record fee in 2019 and going on to make his senior England debut recently too.

Although he hasn’t been in his position for too long, Jones insisted Hart is already making his mark, saying: “Paul took over for the last month to six weeks of the season and you could see an instant reaction that he’s got from coaches and players.

“I enjoy watching the young players develop and evolve and there’ll be a pathway.

“Plus, we have regular chats, because we’re a big believer of creating an environment where players can flourish, where talent and opportunity meet, and all those things.”

The pair first worked when Hart was academy director with Charlton and Jones became the Addicks’ U21 professional development coach having ended his lengthy association with Yeovil Town.

It was the start of a working relationship that has hugely influenced Jones’ career, and now he hopes, the youngsters at Kenilworth Road too.

He added: “He’s a mentor and the one I look up to in football.

“He’s the one that shaped me and is around for me, and that was his role.

“On the training pitch, he had words of wisdom and is a big, big character and presence.

“That won’t change because he’s still around, I can go to him.

“I’ve got a wonderful dad, but he’s as close as you can get to a football dad. That was his role.

“I signed a long-term contract last year and we’ve been in the process of building a football club, but we’ve really taken it to another level.

“Paul, he won’t mind me saying, was probably edging towards cutting back his role, so he could spend time with his family.

“He’s at an age where he’s earned that right.

“But I was really focused on him taking over the academy because he’s the best I’ve seen at running an academy and developing young players.

“His track record is absolutely phenomenal.

“What he does with players and young human beings, in terms of how he shapes them, gives them values and gives them a role and responsibility around the football club and football team, is magnificent.

“He’s taught me so much, so for us to have him is a massive coup for the football club.

“With the greatest of respect to anyone, he’s as good as there’s ever been in terms of producing talent.”

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