Defender John Egan feels he has progressed a long way in his debut season at Griffin Park but promised that there is still plenty more to come.
The 24-year-old signed from Sky Bet League One side Gillingham last July and went on to make 37 appearances for The Bees in his debut season, chipping in with four goals. John said that he has learnt a lot off the coaching and playing staff at Jersey Road over the past year which he is looking to take into next season.
“On the whole I have had a good season,” said John, speaking to iFollow. “I broke into the team at the start of the season and played a lot of games. I found that I can play at this level and do well at this level. On a personal level it has been a very positive season. I have improved a lot as a player and I have enjoyed the games. I have stepped up now and it is all about kicking on. Everybody can learn a bit off each other and you see that in training every day. Players are going out there to try and better themselves and work on things to keep their performance at a very high level. There are a lot of centre-backs at the club and the gaffer was a centre-back and I am all about improving until the day that I finish. There are a lot of people to learn off and to gain knowledge from which is a good thing.”
John’s form for The Bees was also rewarded by Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, who handed John his international debut in March against Iceland. A native of Cork, John admitted that international football had been high on his priority list when joining Brentford and that he was delighted to receive that international recognition.
“Getting called up to the Ireland squad was probably the biggest thing that I have achieved and that was down to my form at Brentford,” said John. "If I can keep doing well for Brentford and getting that type of recognition then it will only be good for myself and the club. Coming into the Championship I knew that there were a lot of players in the Ireland set-up at this level so that was a big goal of mine. To have made my debut is brilliant and it is a very proud moment but it is about kicking on. The next step for me is to be involved regularly by keeping my form at club level.”
As a former Black Cat, John is already relishing a trip back to The Stadium of Light next season to take on his old club Sunderland following their relegation from the Premier League. David Moyes’ side will join a host of big clubs in the second tier next year alongside the likes of Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, and Derby County. John said that he is not a respecter of reputations and believes that, on their day, The Bees will be a match for anyone in the division next season.
“It will be great to get back up there and play against Sunderland,” said John. “I still have a few friends playing for them so it’s one that I have kept an eye on. Everywhere you look there are big clubs but we have shown this year that it doesn’t matter how big a club you are, everything goes on the pitch. It doesn’t matter what is in the stands or who is watching, it is all about 11 versus 11 on the pitch. Just because you are a big club that doesn’t mean it is a given you will walk out and get three points. We have full confidence in our ability and we feel like, on our day, we can beat anybody. That is a great thing to have. We also have a lot of driven individuals who want to get to the top and that is a massive thing to have in the changing room.”