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“It is a great challenge.”

12 January 2017

Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith looks ahead to Saturday’s meeting with Newcastle United

The Brentford players are relishing the opportunity to welcome high-flying Newcastle United to Griffin Park this weekend according to Bees boss Dean Smith. The Magpies have filled one of the two automatic promotion spaces since October and got the better of The Bees when the two sides met in the North-East back that same month. However, with Brentford on a run of just one defeat in seven and The Magpies having won just one of their last four in all competitions, The Bees boss hopes this will be a good time to go up against Rafa Benitez and his side.

Speaking to Bees Player ahead of the match, Dean said: “It is a great challenge. I didn’t think we played that well when we went to Newcastle United which was a disappointment. It is a game for us now to test our wits. We have hit a recent bit of form: I know it was non-league opposition but we played well and were clinical and we beat Birmingham City quite comfortably the week before. We feel that we are in a good place at the moment and the players are looking forward to the game. There is a lot more confidence in what we are doing and how we are doing it. The players look confident in executing plans and they look confident in the system that we are playing. They have a great belief in what they are doing now. It is a great opportunity for us because it might be a little bit different for a club of Newcastle’s size and stature to come to Griffin Park. What Rafa Benitez has done with Newcastle in the Championship has been admirable. Everybody can point out the quality of their players and the funds and support that they have got but they still need to go and do it right.”

Last Saturday’s 5-1 Emirates FA Cup Third Round victory over Eastleigh at Griffin Park set up a mouth-watering tie against local neighbours and current Premier League leaders Chelsea in the Fourth Round later his month. With Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion, and now The Blues, all to visit Griffin Park in the upcoming weeks, Dean feels it is a great time to be around the club.

“My first reaction to the draw was oh-no but then you think about it and it is quite interesting,” said Dean. “It is the toughest draw that you can get, away from home against the current leaders of the league in the land. It is only down the road from us and we are both playing well. There is no thought of it at all at the moment as we have a massive game against Newcastle United. For us to be hosting a club like Newcastle United, then Aston Villa in a couple of weeks’ time shows how far we have come as a football club. We feel that we are competitive in this league and we are looking forward to it. We want to show people what we are about and do that against Newcastle.”

One player to miss out on last Saturday’s cup win was in-demand striker Scott Hogan who was recovering from a glute injury picked up in the win over Birmingham City. Dean expects The Bees frontman, who has scored 14 goals this season, to be ready to go this weekend and is keen to keep one of his prize assets. 

“Scott Hogan’s buttock is fine, he has trained all week and is available for selection,” said Dean. “I will speak to him tomorrow morning and see how he is. I fully expect him to want to score a hat-trick against Newcastle United and show people who may question his Premier League credentials that he can do it. There has been a lot of speculation and offers from clubs for him but we have said all along that he has a value to us and we want to keep him at the football club if we can. We will certainly have to bring people in if Scott goes. When you see the valuations that are put on Scott already then we don’t have that money to go and get somebody in. We have been looking throughout in case anything did happen so we have a number of different options. We feel that we have a balanced squad so if people come in then people would go out. You don’t want to stockpile a squad because then you have players who are unhappy because they are not involved.”

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