Dean Smith has backed his players to cope with the pressure as the late charge towards the Play-Offs continues. Last Saturday’s injury-time leveller against Fulham leaves The Bees four points outside the top six with three games remaining. The Brentford boss has been happy with how his side have stuck to the task over their last six, unbeaten games and feels that three more victories will be enough to see them gate-crash the end of season promotion shootout.
Speaking to iFollow Brentford ahead of the match, Dean said: “It has been like cup football for us the last four or five games. If we hadn’t won any of them then we wouldn’t be in the Play-Off picture. We are still hanging onto coattails. There was pressure on last week to get something out of the game against Fulham. The players know how to cope with pressure and have dealt with it really well so far. I have no worries about that. It can be distracting if people are looking at results but we can only concentrate on ourselves. I fully believe that if we win all three games we have a very good chance of getting in that top six. We have got to take it one game at a time. It is going to be tough but we have a great belief in the group of players we have got.”
The first of those three games has the added spice of being a local affair as Queens Park Rangers make the short trip west to Griffin Park this weekend. Ian Holloway’s side struck twice in injury-time in the reverse fixture back in November to grab the most unlikely of points. Despite the R’s being comfortably in mid-table and destined for another year at this level, Dean was quick to dismiss any suggestions that they might not be 100 per cent up for this match.
“I have always been of the mindset that there’s no game where a team doesn’t have anything to play for,” revealed Dean. “There’s always professional pride for any player. I was the same when I played and I am sure that our players, even if there was nothing to aim for, would be playing with a professional pride to win the game. I expect QPR to be no different. They will try to stop us playing and make it a really tough game for us. I am sure that their supporters would like to get bragging rights over ours. They have some enforced changes with Nedum Onouha out suspended and Joel Lynch out for the season but they have got good players. Their results look like they have been a little bit up and down. We have to make sure we concentrate on our game. That is very important and what we try to do.”
Saturday’s match will be The Bees 48th in all competitions this campaign but, aside from Rico Henry, Dean expects to have a fully fit squad at his disposal for QPR’s visit. Those squad options have enabled Dean to rotate his team over the recent busy schedule, something he feels has been a big benefit to the group.
“Andreas Bjelland came off with a tight achilles at half-time on Saturday and trained for the first-time today so he should be available,” revealed Dean. “Alan Judge has been in and out of training as he has a tight hamstring which you don’t want to force. Saturday might come a little bit too soon for him. Florian Jozefzoon came through Saturday no problem so the only other one is Rico Henry. It has been a really privileged period for us where we have a lot of people to choose from. We have changed the team over recent weeks given the amount of games that we have played and the quality of the squad we have got. It has worked for us and we will be looking to maybe do that again on Saturday.”
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