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First Team

“Winning breeds confidence so the lads are full of confidence”

Dean Smith looks ahead to Saturday’s trip to Craven Cottage

12 April 2018

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Brentford Head Coach Dean admits this weekend’s Sky Bet Championship derby against Fulham carries extra spice with both clubs fighting at the top end of the table. The Whites are unbeaten in the league since December and moved into the top two with victory over Reading on Tuesday night while The Bees wrapped up a third straight league success at Nottingham Forest on the same night. Having taken nine points from a possible nine, and kept three clean sheets, Dean feels his side go into this weekend’s televised game in a good place.

“Everybody has recovered and is well,” Dean told iFollow Brentford. “We are five games unbeaten and have won the last three. Even though it’s by the odd goal, winning breeds confidence so the lads are full of confidence. We haven’t conceded many goals at all; the three against Cardiff City seems to have been a one-off. On the whole we have been defending a lot better and giving away fewer chances. Defensively I have been very pleased but we still need to create more chances. Bristol City we were excellent and created a number of chances but we probably haven’t created as many in the last couple of games.”

Despite those three victories, The Bees remain four points outside the top six with just four matches remaining this campaign. With the six teams between Derby County in fifth and The Bees in tenth covered by so few points, Dean knows his side can’t afford any more slip-ups this campaign. However, knowing exactly what you need every time you go out on the pitch can have its advantages according to the Brentford boss.

“That’s been our mindset for a while; we know we just have to go out and win games,” said Dean. “Our start, not winning for eight games, always made it tough for us. We became a chaser and had to play catch up all the time. It’s no different now so the mentality of the players has been like that for a while. It does make it easier knowing you have to win but, as I've said before, we have to perform. The only thing we can control is our performance. If we can control that, individually and collectively, then there’s every chance we can win the game. Given the run that Fulham are on it makes it tougher but we still believe that we are a good team as well.”

Unbeaten in their last 20 league games, The Whites are England’s form side and overtook Cardiff City in the automatic promotion race in midweek. Slaviša Jokanović’s side, like The Bees, have earned plaudits this season for their style of football as they look to go one better than last season’s Play-Off semi-final defeat. Dean admits that the circumstances around the game has given it and extra spice and says The Bees travelling fans will have a big part to play in Saturday’s derby.

“It's another game towards the total but there’s obviously an added spice to it,” admitted Dean. “We have given ourselves a chance by winning these three games and performing well. The fact that we will have a very good following there, and that they have broken into the top two, will make it that bit spicier. I have heard people say that we are two of the better footballing teams in the league, which is nice to hear, but we want to hear people talking about us as a top six team. The only way to do that is to go to Fulham, put in a performance, and hopefully get the result. The fans have a massive role. They travelled in their numbers to Nottingham on a Tuesday night. We are just about keeping that Play-Off dream alive by winning football games. They still believe in us, which is fantastic, and we will certainly need that at Fulham on Saturday.”

When asked about his squad options for the trip to SW6, Dean said: “I am not sure about Alan Judge as he didn’t train today. We will look at him tomorrow. Florian trained today so he’s fine. At the moment it seems to be as was.”

Get ready for back-to-back West London derbies as we face Fulham away first and Queens Park Rangers at Griffin Park next week (Saturday 21 April). Tickets for our game against The R’s are available to previous ticket purchasers and selling fast so secure your place online here.

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