BURY captain Jim McNulty is steeling himself for a stern test at Luton tonight, but believes the squad is capable of putting down a real marker against the newly promoted outfit.

The Shakers leapfrogged John Still’s Conference champions in the League Two table after bouncing back from their opening day defeat at home to Cheltenham with victory at Hartlepool on Saturday.

Luton kicked off their campaign with a win at Carlisle, but were unable to repeat the trick in their first home Football League match in five years, losing 1-0 against AFC Wimbledon at the weekend.

McNulty believes the atmosphere will be cranked up another notch for the Hatters’ first night game of the season, but he says the Shakers players are equipped to deal with a baying crowd.

“Luton is a tough game,” he admitted. “They are a man’s outfit, they will play percentage football and make it difficult.

“So it is going to be a tough night - a night to stand up to be counted.

“But if we can go down there, put in another strong performance and get a victory, that will send out a message.

“We’ve got gritty characters and we have got a lot of men in our dressing room that have been promoted from this division and the next, so we are equipped to go anywhere, we just need to get the juggernaut in motion.”

Rob Lainton got the nod to start in goal at Hartlepool after first-choice stopper Shwan Jalal failed to recover sufficiently from a groin strain he picked up in the Capital One Cup defeat at Bolton.

Kelvin Etuhu recovered from flu to make his debut in midfield, replacing Chris Sedgwick, while new signing Danny Rose put pressure on front two Danny Nardiello and Ryan Lowe after coming off the bench to score.

The competition for places has pleased manager David Flitcroft, who warned his starting IX not to get too comfortable.

“We’ve got competition at the football club, which is a good thing,” he said.

“The players have got to handle competition and new recruitment.

“New recruits that make us stronger are good for the group, if you can’t handle that then you won’t play for me at this football club.”