Smith was driving force behind deal

Driven midfielder Jonathan Smith was key to Town agreeing a £50,000 deal plus add-ons with York City for his services, according to manager Paul Buckle, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 2nd January 2013, 11:00 am

The Town boss revealed he was the driving force behind the move as he signed an 18-month contract to keep him at Kenilworth Road until the summer of 2014.

Buckle said: “He pushed it. There’s only so much we can do. There’s only so much we can offer, there’s only so much we can do by ringing Gary Mills at York and the chairmen talking.

“In the end the player showed a real will to want to come and play for Luton and credit to him because he’s dropping a level, but he sees the potential here and wants to join it and see the challenge.”

The 25-year-old combative midfielder impressed while on loan at Luton, netting his only goal from six appearances in his last match, the 3-0 win over Alfreton on December 8, before being recalled by the Minstermen.

“We were a bit disappointed at the time that York called him back because we’d just won 3-0 and Jonathan had played a major role in that game,” said Buckle. “We missed him at Newport, there’s no doubt about that. We missed him, we missed (Janos) Kovacs in that game.

“But thankfully we’ve recovered, we’ve got some points on the board and our performances at home have been very good and now with Jonathan on board we’ve got to try and kick on now second half of the season because it’s all to play for.”

Smith will continue to wear squad number 24 and Buckle is now pleased with the options he has in central midfield.

He said: “I’m delighted to have Smith. (Arnaud) Mendy and (Alex) Lawless have done great in the middle of the park in the last few games.

“But we’re a little bit low on numbers, a little bit of strength in depth and Jonathan will bring great competition. I think the last time out at home against Alfreton our fans really did see the real Jonathan Smith and I think they really liked what they saw. It was an all-action performance, loads of energy and he scored a great goal.

“I’m delighted to have him on board and obviously (Scott) Neilson trained with us yesterday for the first time and I can assure you the fans will be excited to see him play because he can go past someone and he’s going to give us some much-needed width in the team.”

And managing director Gary Sweet believes Smith ‘epitomises’ everything the Hatters are about, although Saturday’s postponement meant they were unable to unveil him and fellow new signing Neilson during the half time break.

He added: “It’s a brilliant signing. In our view, Jonathan, even though he speaks with a funny accent, he epitomises what Luton is about for me.

“He’s keen as mustard to get back in and not just keen as mustard to play for Luton but is actually as keen as mustard to get us promoted and we need that kind of attitude.

“It gives us a bit of steel in midfield and it’s exactly what we need. I think he’s probably looking at today with the game called off with a little glint in his eye thinking it’s another one he can play in.

“It’s a testament to his character, he came in today and saw all the water on the pitch and thought, yeah I want to be out on that pitch, those are the kind of conditions I like, I want to play on that. That’s the kind of character we need at the club.

“We like to think we treat our players very well. We don’t want to make it too comfortable here for them, but we like to treat them well.

“We like to give them a fair salary and a fair time while they’re here. We make things a little bit edgy and a little bit tough at times but they enjoy it here, we’ve got a great camp. Everybody that comes in here wants to stay here. The squad of players we’ve got there’s a fantastic unity about it.

“I know we keep saying that but it’s absolutely true. Anybody who witnesses the dressing room, even fathers and mascots, all comment on when they go into the dressing room on a Saturday how fantastic they all seem to get on with each other.

“And they do, it’s a great occasion, they’re desperate to succeed this lot as well. And Jonathan just adds to that and so does Scott Neilson as well.

“Scott is of a similar character, he’ll add a bit of steel to it as well and give us a bit of width which we desperately need. They’re two great signings and you mention we’re backing the manager, of course we are.

“He’s a good manager, he knows what he’s doing and he knows exactly where he’s taking it.”