Yoann Barbet says he is up for the challenge as he aims to cement his spot in the Brentford starting XI after a frustrating 2016/17 campaign at Griffin Park.
The 24-year-old made just seven league starts in the first seven months of the season before ending the season on a high by playing the full 90 minutes as Dean Smith’s side won five of their final nine matches. After a breakthrough end to the previous season, Yoann admitted he was frustrated by his lack of playing time this season but said that frustration only made him more determined to force his way back into the starting XI.
Speaking to iFollow, Yoann said: “I wasn’t happy at the start of the season because I didn’t play but I didn’t play because Harlee Dean and John Egan were really consistent. Andreas Bjelland came back from injury and played well so I had to be patient. I got the opportunity eight games ago to play as a centre-back and I think that I did well. I was a little bit frustrated because of the last six months that I had last year. I expected more games but that is football. I hope that it will be a better season for me next year. When you are a player, you always want to play every game. It was almost the first time in my career that I haven’t been playing in my position, or not at all. It is good mentally because you know that when you get the chance you don’t want to let any other player play instead of you.”
Competition for starting spots at Griffin Park is probably no more fierce than it is for the centre-back berths with Yoann up against Harlee Dean, John Egan, and Andreas Bjelland. With those three defenders, and Head Coach Dean Smith, all to learn from, Yoann wants to hit the ground running when he comes back in pre-season to ensure that he gets the shirt come the first weekend in August.
“It is good to have three other great centre-backs here because you have to work hard,” said Yoann. “Harlee Dean is the captain and John Egan and Andreas Bjelland are international players. I am the youngest of the four centre-backs so I am learning from them also. The gaffer was also a centre-back so you listen to him as he knows what he is talking about as well. Playing with Harlee Dean helped because I only played with him last season so we knew each other already. That helped me when I got back in the team. I am confident but I know that I will have to work hard in pre-season to make sure that I am in the line-up when it comes to the start of the season.”
Yoann was speaking at the club’s Player of the Year Awards dinner at The Radisson Blu Edwardian earlier this month where he picked up the Community Player of the Year Award for his work with the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Growing up the French defender said it was always his dream to meet professional footballers and, now that he is one, he wants to try and use his standing to inspire the next generation.
“It is nice to get that award because it represents me a little bit,” said Yoann. “I try to be nice with the people outside. When I was a kid I was looking to try and meet players and now I am on the other side. I am really pleased to put some smiles on the faces of kids because I was like them when I was young. I am really happy and it means a lot to me to get this award. It is important for me to give back because sometimes they don’t realise they need to work hard at school. They want to be professional footballers but you also have to work hard at school because if you don’t make it then you have to have something out of football.”