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First Team

“It will be difficult to win nine out of nine but that’s what we have to play for”

Dean Smith looks ahead to Saturday’s game against Middlesbrough

15 March 2018

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Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith admits there’s no room for error now if The Bees want to keep pace with the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off contenders. After back-to-back defeats this week, The Bees welcome sixth-placed Middlesbrough to Griffin Park on Saturday with time running out to close the eight-point gap between the two sides. Boro, and Patrick Bamford in particular, have come to life in recent weeks under Tony Pulis, taking 13 points from a possible 15 heading into Saturday’s game. Speaking to iFollow Brentford ahead of Saturday’s meeting, Dean refused to call it a must-win game but admitted that it wasn’t far short.

“With our last two results it certainly becomes a very big game for us,” said Dean, talking about Saturday. “We try to win every game but, with the games running out, the importance gets even bigger. We’ve never had a point target, we have just looked at the next game and tried to get as many points as we can. There’s 27 points to play for. It will be difficult to win nine out of nine but that’s what we have to play for. We have got to look at the next game and take care of a very good manager in Tony Pulis. They have got a lot of really good players but we believe we do too. There will be a lot of good battles on the pitch. If we can keep the ball as well as we have done then we will starve them of feeding Patrick Bamford somewhat. We’ve got to be more potent in the opposition half as well.”

The Bees' boss was without four first-team players on Tuesday night with Florian Jozefzoon, Andreas Bjelland, and Rico Henry out injured while Henrik Dalsgaard was absent for the birth of his child. There’s good news on that front with Dean revealing that he expects Florian and Henrik to be in contention for a place on Saturday. As well as welcoming those two back, Dean said there are plenty of others in his squad pushing to be involved from the start.

“Florian Jozefzoon has trained today and is available for the squad,” said Dean. “Henrik Dalsgaard had a baby girl on Tuesday and he is available for the game too. Andreas Bjelland is still out along with Rico Henry; they are the only injuries really. We are hoping to get Andreas back into training come the back-end of the international break. We were thinking about making a few tweaks on Tuesday but we couldn’t defensively. Everybody is fighting for a place; Alan Judge wants to be starting, as does Lewis Macleod and Josh McEachran. They all want to be playing and it is down to them now to show me in training that they are worth it.”

One player who came back in on Tuesday night, Chris Mepham, received his maiden call-up to the full Wales squad earlier today ahead of their trip to China over the international break. The 20-year-old defender has been a revelation this season since making his full debut against Boro back in September and Dean feels he has everything he needs to go right to the very top.

“It is well deserved for Chris Mepham,” remarked Dean on his Wales call-up. “He is a young player who we think a lot of and who we think has a lot of potential. It is fully deserved; he has shown in the ten appearances in the Championship that he belongs there, if not higher. It is a big fillip for him and the football club to be called up into his first full squad. I have always said that he is a guiding light for our young B Team players and some of the first-team players as his attitude to training is right up there. He is a very good learner and is hungry to learn. He always challenges the coaches about how he can improve. For me, he’s one of the players who shows others how it can be done. If you have established internationals then people see that it is a good club to join. It shows a football club that is getting better all the time.”

Tickets for Saturday's visit from Boro are on sale to Previous purchasers now. Help The Bees return to winning ways at Griffin Park from just £23 adults and £6 juniors. Get your tickets now. 

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