Dean Smith is confident he has the squad at his disposal to go to Preston North End and take the three points this weekend. The Bees head to Deepdale on Saturday unbeaten in six in the Sky Bet Championship and keen to avoid a repeat of last season’s 4-2 defeat in Lancashire. Smith’s side were unhappy travellers at times last season but, having lost just one of their last five on the road this term, The Bees Head Coach thinks they have put their away woes behind them.
“We weren’t very good up there last season,” Dean admitted to iFollow Brentford ahead of Saturday’s game. “It was such a contrast from the season before when we went up there and got such a great 3-1 victory. Last time, certainly in the second-half of the game, we weren’t very good at all. With the players that we have got now I certainly wouldn’t expect that performance. I think we are a different team away from home this season. We are certainly more consistent in our performances, whether it be home or away. We had such a good home record before and were not so good away but now I think we travel well. It was one of the things that we spoke to the players about in the summer as it was something we had to improve. We have certainly done that already this season.”
After Alex Neil’s appointment over the close season, North End have emerged as one of the early promotion contenders, sitting in eighth after 13 games. Although they are without a win in their last three, Dean thinks their performances over that period have merited a better return.
“It will be a very tough game,” said Dean. “They have started the season very well. I watched them against Fulham and they worked Fulham very hard. I also watched them against Sunderland and against Wolverhampton Wanderers and they acquitted themselves very well. Alex Neil had gone in and you can see the style that they want to play. It will be a tough ask for us. They went and pressed Fulham high up the pitch, won the ball back a number of times, and went two goals up. I have said this season that I think Wolves are the team to be shot at, and they certainly had a go at them last week at Molineux.”
With the B Team in Italy this week, Sergi Canos, Lewis Macleod, and Justin Shaibu were all able to continue their comebacks from injury against Inter Milan on Wednesday. After nearly a year out with a serious knee-injury, Dean is hopeful of having Lewis back in first-team contention within the next month.
“We had a few players fly out to Italy to join up with the B Team squad and get minutes under their belt so they are ready for Saturday,” said Dean. “Lewis Macleod got another 75 minutes, Sergi Canos got 75 minutes and a goal, as did Justin Shaibu. Sergi has been training with us for the last ten days and he has some minutes under his belt now. Lewis is building himself up to a full 90 minutes before he is available to us. We are hoping that, come Cardiff City, we should have Lewis in a position where he is pushing for a squad place.”
In the build-up to Saturday’s game, The Bees threw open their Jersey Road Training Ground to fans for an open training session on Tuesday. With 200 fans turning up to see Dean put the squad through their paces, The Bees Head Coach felt it was a great opportunity to bring the players and supporters closer together.
“It is nice for the supporters to get down to the training ground,” said Dean. “With the rise of the football club over the past five or six years it’s been more difficult for them to get into the training ground. Myself, Phil, and Rasmus thought it would be great to have them in a couple of times a season. It was a good training session, even if I say so myself, and it showed the human side of the players. There is a lot of work that goes in during the week to getting performances at the weekend and it is important that the supporters can see the kind of work that we are doing. They see the performances on the pitch and it is great to show them all the little building blocks that go together to getting that performance. As an exercise, I thought it was great and it was well received by the supporters and the players as well. It shows that there is a real togetherness at this football club.”