Dean Smith is targeting a bumper points haul over the Christmas period as The Bees look to climb back into the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off mix. Starting with the trip to Norwich City on Friday night, The Bees have four games in 12 days with a nine-point gap to make up on the top six. Having lost just two of their last 15 in the Sky Bet Championship, Dean is keen to ensure that his side carry that form into the busy Christmas period.
“I am really looking forward to the games because they are mouth-watering fixtures,” Dean told iFollow Brentford. “The fixtures have fallen quite well for us. I am really looking forward to them and I think that they are games which the players are looking forward to. If you go and get nine points out of those four games then you are looking up the table. If you don’t, then you are playing catch-up. We know how that feels because we only picked up three points from our first seven games and we have picked up 25 points from our last 15 games. Our form, we feel, is good. We’ve only had two defeats in 15 games but we also feel that we have left a lot of points out there. We can’t leave many more points out there over the next 24 games because it will be too big a job to catch up.”
The Christmas run of fixtures gets underway with a trip to East Anglia to take on Daniel Farke’s Norwich City tomorrow evening. The Canaries haven’t lived up to their pre-season billing and are currently 16th in the Sky Bet Championship, having one just once in their last ten games in all competitions. Last season’s visit to Carrow Road ended in a 5-0 defeat for The Bees but Dean feels both sides are in very different places now.
“We don’t normally do a debrief in the dressing room after the game but we did there and some good stuff came out of it,” Dean revealed, talking about last season’s defeat to The Canaries. “We have learned from that experience and moved forward. That was a one-off game and we haven’t really seen one of them again and hopefully we won’t. In a year we have become a very consistent team. Clubs that come down from the Premier League know that it is paramount to get back up during that parachute payment period because they will have a lot of players earning a lot of money from their Premier League days. They have a new manager this season who started off ok but they probably haven’t hit the expectations of where they should be.”
With so many games in such a short space of time, The Bees squad depth will be put to the test over the coming days. With Josh Clarke out for Friday’s trip to Norwich City, Dean admits he has some issues at right-back but he is pleased overall with the health of his squad.
“We have had a few little niggles,” admitted Dean. “Josh Clarke went over on his ankle against Barnsley so he will miss the Friday game but we hope he will be ready for the Aston Villa game. Ollie Watkins also had a slight scare with his ankle but he will be ready for Friday night. Henrik Dalsgaard has trained with us all week but it might be too early for him to start on Friday but he is certainly in our thoughts now. Lasse Vibe is back to full fitness and we also have Lewis Macleod who is itching to get a start. Alan Judge is training with us each week and he will soon be knocking my door down to get a game. Unfortunately, he has a bit of a niggle so he couldn’t play in the B Team game against Manchester City the other day so we will be putting on some extra minutes for him at the Training Ground.”