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Dean Smith relishing ‘good test’ at Leeds United

15 December 2016

“We are going into a stadium where there will be vociferous support for the home team but we have to concentrate on what we do”

Dean Smith said it’s been so far so good this week as his side prepares for Saturday’s trip to Leeds United looking for a third straight Sky Bet Championship win. The Bees ended a four game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Burton Albion on Saturday before following that up with a 1-0 success at Bristol City on Tuesday night. After dropping down the table in recent weeks, Dean admits the back-to-back wins have given his side a real confidence boost ahead of the busy Christmas period. 

“It’s been so far so good this week but we have another tough game now,” said Dean, speaking to Bees Player ahead of the match. “These three game weeks are always tough and they take a lot out of the players. We have had two really good performances and two really good results. Just getting the two results that we have has given everybody a rise in confidence. We have climbed the table a little bit and we are now looking up rather than over our shoulders. We are not looking at the league in any way, shape, or form at the moment but it is important that we get as many points as quickly as we can.”

Standing in Brentford’s way of a perfect end to the week on Saturday will be Gary Monk’s Leeds United, themselves looking for a third win in four league matches to cement their spot in the top six. The Whites have lost only once at home in their last eight and, with another sizeable Elland Road crowd expected, Dean believes it is vital that his players remain focussed on just doing their job at hand.

“I played with Gary Monk at Sheffield Wednesday and it is no surprise that he has gone into management,” said Dean. “He did well at Swansea City and stamped his own style onto how they played. He has taken that onto Leeds United and is doing very well there. If you can get Elland Road rocking then it’s a hell of a place to play football for their players: It is up to us to quieten that down. We have to go about our job and play our football. We have already played at Newcastle United, Aston Villa, and Brighton and Hove Albion this season with a mixed bag of performances. We are going into a stadium where there will be vociferous support for the home team but we have to concentrate on what we do. We know that they have good players, although Chris Wood might be out with a hamstring injury, and it will be a good test for us.”

One of the keys to The Bees points haul this week has been the impact of attacking midfielder Romaine Sawyers who set up Scott Hogan’s opener on Saturday against Burton Albion before seeing his fierce drive deflect in off Maxime Colin for the only goal at Bristol City on Tuesday night. Dean admits it has taken Romaine time to settle in the Championship, following his summer move from Walsall, but thinks his recent performances have shown his undoubted talent.

“It has been a bit of a bumpy ride for him so far: it took him a while to find his feet,” said Dean. “He played that great ball on Saturday for Scott Hogan’s goal and he played almost exactly the same ball for Lasse Vibe on Tuesday but they managed to get the numbers back. It was a great strike on Tuesday and Maxime Colin tells me it was off his right thigh not his backside! It’s given him a real boost and he is performing well. The numbers that we are getting from Romaine, and the other players, in terms of distance run and high-speed runs are exceptional. That shows they are in a good place physically as well.”

After Saturday’s trip to West Yorkshire, the Boxing Day fixture at home to Cardiff City kicks off a run of eight matches in a little over a month. With such a punishing schedule coming up, Dean is delighted to see more and more members of his squad back in training and approaching match contention.

“The squad is looking well and there are a lot more bodies on the grass now which is really good,” said Dean. “Alan Judge is out there sprinting and getting his deceleration correct in terms of his mechanics. Rico Henry has been out on the grass with us doing a little bit of non-contact work which will be a big boost for us when he is back. Alan McCormack will be back part-training with us on Monday. A lot of players will be coming back onto the grass with us so that will be a big boost with the festive period coming up.”

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