Dean Smith looks ahead to Saturday’s trip to Craven Cottage
Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith has no doubts that his team will be up for the challenge when they head to near neighbours Fulham on Saturday. The Bees have won five of their last seven games but now face a tough trip to the Play-Off chasing Cottagers for their final away game of the season. Despite being safety positioned in the mid-table pack, Dean has no doubts that the passion of a local derby with get his players fired up for the game.
“The magnitude of local derbies certainly makes it easier to get the players up for it,” said Dean, speaking to Bees Player ahead of the match. “We just played QPR at home and the players were certainly up for that. We didn’t play anywhere as near as they can but they were up for it and they will certainly be up for the Fulham game as well. We know what a good team they are and they deservedly beat us at home. We need to be at our best because they are pushing for the Play-Offs. They have done a fantastic job there and built a good team. The fans want to go back to work with a smile on their face, talking about their team winning again.”
Slavisa Jokanovic’s side are the Sky Bet Championship’s top scorers this season, after netting 82 in 44 games, with The Bees only nine goals behind them. With two of the division’s top five scorers going head to head, Dean is expecting an entertaining afternoon at Craven Cottage.
“We analyse the opposition in every game but a large part of our working week is on what we can do not on what the opposition can do,” said Dean. “We are quite confident in what we can do and the players that we have got. We invest a lot of trust and confidence in the players to play how we can. Their front three last week of Floyd Ayite, Sone Aluko, and Ryan Sessegnon were very bright and had great rotation. It was the same with Tom Cairney, Steffan Johansen, and Kevin McDonald in midfield. They are very fluid as a team and similar to ourselves in many ways. I think I saw a stat that Fulham had been involved in the most goals in the Championship and we had been involved in the third most so you certainly get your monies worth in terms of entertainment. It makes for a really good game.”
On the subject of team news for Saturday’s game, Dean admitted that he was sweating on the fitness of a couple in the midfield but there was better news elsewhere.
“We still have a few little niggles so we will have to look at them over the next 24 hours or so to see if they are ready,” said Dean. “Ryan Woods got a whack on the foot which is still a little bit swollen. Andreas Bjelland should be back in the squad but he hasn’t played minutes since Ipswich Town so it would be a risk to put him in the starting XI. This game might come too quickly for Alan McCormack but Lasse Vibe has had his stitches out so they are all fighting fit.”
A win on Saturday would see The Bees surpass their points total from last season with a game to spare. Dean’s side currently sit ninth with two games remaining and The Bees’ boss believes there has been definite progress from his side over the last 12 months.
“We have progressed as a team and a club from the moment that I have come in to where we are now,” said Dean. “Whether we pass the points tally or not our football is better and our style of play is getting there. The players are looking better and competing at a higher level in this league. When I first came here the talk was about us not beating the top six but we have certainly shown we can do that. We are very competitive now and we need to keep pushing that on. We certainly need to add to our squad, we know that. While it is great that the B Team players are getting the experience, and it is something we want to do, we know that if we want to challenge for a top six squad we need to add more quality to that. We are certainly looking to do that.”