Brentford midfielder Ryan Woods believes that he is continuing to make big strides as he closes in on 100 games for The Bees in the Sky Bet Championship.
The 23-year-old has missed just five matches in all competitions since arriving from Sky Bet League One side Shrewsbury Town in August 2015. After another impressive season at Griffin Park, Ryan feels that he is now an established Championship player but admits there’s still more to come.
“I feel like I am establishing myself as a second-tier player now,” said Ryan, speaking to iFollow after the conclusion of the season. “I feel that I have got my foot in the door and my confidence is growing on and off the pitch. I feel that I have done myself justice this year and I am pleased with how it has gone. The holding midfield position is where I am the most happy when I am playing. I feel like I do a good job there. There are obviously things that I need to improve on, and I know that, but I feel that I am making strides. There is a lot more learning to do yet, I am still only young, and I feel that I can do a good job there. I have played a lot of games for my age and sometimes I feel like I am one of the older ones in the group. I look to take my experience to the younger lads whenever I can.”
Ryan’s form this campaign didn’t go unnoticed by teammates or supporters alike as he picked up the Players’ Player of the Year award at last weekend’s Player of the Year Awards and finished runner-up to Harlee Dean in the Supporters’ vote. On top of the awards Ryan was often singled out by opposition fans as one of the keys to The Bees form this season, something he admits gave him a lot of confidence.
Speaking about his awards, Ryan said: “It meant a lot to get the award from my teammates. We have a lot of quality in this team and for people like that to vote for me as their Player of the Year is appreciated. Our job is to make the fans happy and get results for them. To come second in the Supporters’ Player of the Year vote is very pleasing to hear. I want to repeat my performances again next season and hopefully do even better. Opposition fans watch good football players week in week out: Aston Villa have just come down from the Premier League so they are used to seeing very good Premier League players. To hear that from them, like I do from our own supporters, is pleasing and shows that I must be doing something right on the pitch. At the end of the day as long as I am playing well that is all that matters.”
At 23 years old Ryan is one of a host of players in Dean Smith’s squad who have not yet reached their peak but are experienced campaigners in the EFL. As the group continues to grow together, and with some new arrivals, Ryan sees no reason why The Bees can’t have a crack at the top six next season.
“Next season we are not going to be relying on the fact that we are a young side in this division because we have all played a lot of Championship football now,” said Ryan. “We have a lot of quality and, with the experience that we have got now, I am sure that we can have a good go again next year. We are all looking forward to next season already. It is nice to have that break but we are raring to go for it. It is an exciting group. If we can keep hold of the core of the team, and add a few very good individuals, then I don’t see why we can’t be pushing for at least the Play-Offs. Everyone knows that we are a good side and that we pass the ball around well. It is a joy to play in sometimes.”