“THERE’S A LEADER IN JOHN EGAN - YOU CAN SEE IT EVERY DAY WITH HIS ATTITUDE AROUND THE PLACE. HE’S ONE THAT OTHER PLAYERS LOOK UP TO AND HE’S GOT BETTER AND BETTER.”
Having recovered from his second concussion of the season, John Egan has played an instrumental role during recent weeks.
In a St. Patrick’s Day special, BEES sat down with the Brentford skipper to discuss overcoming injury, international duty and the rise of Chris Mepham.
Brentford have struck a real balance between defence and attack. How pleasing have the last few weeks been?
We’re looking solid as a team. The two times we’ve conceded of late have come from a cross against Preston North End and an offside goal against Leeds United, so it’s possible that we could have had even more clean sheets. Defending starts from the front; the boys have been pressing well and we’ve backed them up which has made us a very solid unit.
Daniel Bentley was named Goalkeeper of the Year at the London Football Awards last month, seeing off competition from Premier League keepers Adrián, Thibaut Courtois, Heurelho Gomes and Hugo Lloris. As a back four, how settling is to know you have a keeper of Dan’s calibre behind you?
Dan’s deservedly picked up the award – he’s been brilliant since arriving at the Club and barely missed a game in two seasons. He’s constantly improving as a player so I’m delighted that he’s got some recognition for his performances. We’ve been solid of late and Dan’s played a big part in that.
Having touched upon it earlier, can you shed some light on your injury troubles this season?
It was my second concussion of the season - after the first one it took a bit longer to heal. I was a bit dazed for a while and wasn’t feeling good for a few days after picking up the injury. I went to a specialist and he told me to be patient and it’d come right. Unlike a fracture or a break of some kind, no scans can detect a concussion – it’s a grey area so it all depends on how you’re feeling. For the first couple of days I tried to kid myself because I wanted to get out and train, but after a while of pushing yourself you hit a brick wall. The Club was patient with me and I had to be patient with myself – you don’t want to risk further damage by rushing back. I’m back to full fitness so touch wood it will stay that way.
Your absence gave Chris Mepham a taste of First-Team action. How impressed have you been with his development this term?
I’ve been very impressed with him all season. He’s performed well in training and I knew that he’d take to First-Team football. We’ve got a good relationship off the field – my advice for him is to keep playing his own game and doing the basics well. He’s an example to any young player trying to make the step up – he’s always asking questions and he’s very keen to learn. Any young player needs to show the right attitude and he’s done that.
With Andreas Bjelland another consistent performer at the heart of the backline, there’s stiff competition for places isn’t there?
That’s what you need to drive yourselves every day; you know that you have to be on your game and stepping up to the plate to keep your jersey. It’s not just in defence - we’ve got competition all over the park. There have barely been any injuries which means we’ve had a near fully-fit squad most weeks. Competition is fierce – we’ve had players missing out on the matchday squad who have trained well throughout the week, which shows the strength in depth we have at the Club.
You were named in the provisional Republic of Ireland squad ahead of a meeting with Turkey on 23 March; how pleasing is it to be back in international contention?
It’s a very proud moment any time you’re called up to the international team. I’ll be looking to maintain my form at Brentford and get us as high up the table as possible – hopefully I can break into the Ireland squad on a regular basis off the back of that success.
Ireland have an ageing defence with the likes of John O’Shea, Stephen Ward and Richard Keogh over the age of 30. Do you see the next couple of years as a real chance to establish yourself in Martin O’Neill’s squad?
There’s a lot of quality in the Ireland squad with plenty of players competing for places. I’ll keep sticking my hand up and do my best to perform when called upon.
60 Seconds with the Skipper…
Ultimate five-a-side team?
David de Gea; Nemanja Vidić; Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho; Lionel Messi
The Brentford team-mate you’d least like to be stuck in a lift with?
Neal Maupay – he’s an angry man
Who do you admire the most?
Favourite holiday destination?
Last viewed on Netflix?
Rate your dance moves out of ten…
A stiff six
If you could play any other sport professionally, which would it be?
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