John Egan feels The Bees could be the big winners as he looks ahead to an important year building up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The 24-year-old earned his second Republic of Ireland cap last month as Martin O’Neill’s men took on Confederations Cup Semi-Finalists Mexico in a friendly in New York. Despite a 3-1 defeat on the night, the Boys in Green are currently unbeaten, level on points with Serbia, at the top of Group D of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. While John is refusing to look too far ahead with his World Cup dreams he recognises that it will be his form, week in week out, with The Bees that will make all the difference.
“It was great to be called up to my country again and get another cap,” said John, speaking to iFollow after returning to Jersey Road. “We flew to New York and I managed to play against Mexico which was a big test for us. They did well in the Confederations Cup so to be able to test yourself against that kind of opposition is great. I really enjoyed the experience again and I am really looking forward to next season, trying to kick-on and trying to get in more squads. Thinking about the World Cup is thinking long term: in football you have to think short-term. It’s about the next game or the next training session which eventually leads to you doing well. I have to focus on doing well here in pre-season, giving some good performances and hopefully kicking-on.”
John made 37 appearances for Dean Smith’s side last season, scoring four goals, after stepping up to the Sky Bet Championship following two successful seasons with Gillingham in League One. With that season under his belt, and feeling at home in The Bees dressing room, John is looking to improve again this campaign and hit the ground running in pre-season.
“It is a lot better this year coming back as I know all the lads,” said John. “Last year it took a while to get to know people but this year it is great because everyone knows each other. I had an extra week off so fitness wise I feel alright. I had a good session today and I am looking forward to hopefully getting some minutes on Friday [against Aldershot Town]. Last year I started very well and got into the team early. I felt that I could do well at this level. This year is all about taking my game to the next level and trying to improve with every game. That all starts in pre-season. We have got a lot of good players here and everyone is going to be fighting hard to get into the team.”
The Bees ended last season with a third straight top ten finish, after a run of five wins from nine to end the season. The Cork-born defender firmly believes that the team can improve on that this season but feels it has to be up to the players to drive each other on over the course of the season.
“We had our moments last season but this year we want to push forward and get into those top six positions,” revealed John. “The mindset is there. We have been getting back to training sharp and demanding more. That will be key this season: we all need to demand more off each other and get the best out of each other. It is going to take a big effort and a big push. Every man is going to be needed at some stage and everyone needs to pull their weight. From what I have seen so far everyone has their head switched on and is ready to go. You know if someone is wanting more from you then it isn’t personal, they are just trying to get more out of you on the pitch. We kind of grew into it a lot last year and now it comes naturally to people. If you want to do well then you are going to have to demand the best out of your teammates every day. We have to focus in on that now and keep the standard high.”