Defender welcomes competition for places ahead of new Sky Bet Championship season
Harlee Dean is expecting another stiff fight for places in the Brentford starting XI as the new Sky Bet Championship season draws ever closer.
The defender made 40 appearances for The Bees last season despite facing competition for his spot from James Tarkowski and Tony Craig.
Now with Andreas Bjelland and Yoann Barbet added to that fight for places Harlee expects there to be another real battle to make the starting line-up for the opening day match against Ipswich Town.
“Things are pretty similar to how it was last season,” said Harlee, speaking to Bees Player from the club’s pre-season Training Camp in Portugal. “They bought in Andreas Bjelland who is a big money signing so I imagine he will be playing and there will be one spot left. Myself Tony Craig and James Tarkowski had a battle last year and I ended up playing the most games out of the centre-halves. I was proud of myself.”
Harlee joined The Bees from Southampton back in 2011 and made his 150th appearance for the club towards the end of last season.
The 23-year-old admitted that it took him a while to find his feet in the Championship last season but felt that once he did he showed he was more than capable of playing at that level.
“I collected the keys for my new place in Brentford this week and this is where I want my future to be,” said Harlee. “I would back myself against anyone and I always will. Last season was an introduction to Championship football and there were mistakes made along the way but I felt as the season went on I got better and stronger. I played the football of my life in the last 10 to 15 games and I want to carry that into the beginning of the season and build on that again. I am glad that I don’t have any injuries this year, as I did last year, so I want to start the season well.”
Harlee and the rest of the team have spent the last five days in Portugal on the club’s Pre-Season Training Camp.
The Camp has been the first opportunity for the players to really get to know the new coaching team of Marinus Dijkhuizen, Roy Hendriksen and Flemming Pedersen and Harlee said he has been impressed by what he has seen so far.
“The sessions that Marinus, Roy and Flemming have been putting on have been very different from anything that we have done before,” said Harlee. “You can tell, being from Holland, that is what they are used to doing and the simplest drills can be changed into difficult ones that we have never done before. It has been good. The training sessions have been different to anything that we have done before and it is exciting to do new stuff each day.”