John Egan insists that Brentford have to take things one game at a time as The Bees look to make a late push for the Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs. Saturday’s defeat at The Den to Millwall left Dean Smith’s side eight points outside the top six. The Bees have a chance to cut that gap to five points tomorrow night when they host Cardiff City at Griffin Park. Despite the visitors’ excellent recent form, John feels The Bees can be a match for anyone on their day.
Speaking to iFollow Brentford ahead of the game, John said: “All season we have wanted to be in and around the play-offs and I think over the majority of the season we have shown that we are quite capable of making the top six. We have played some fantastic stuff. However, the fact is that we aren’t in the top six and, until it’s not possible, we will keep going for the rest of the season. No matter who you play against, it is a chance to get three points. We have to focus on ourselves. If we bring our A game then there aren’t many teams who can live with us. The buzz is to pick up the three points and move on to the next game. As soon as you get ahead of yourself then you’ll take your eye off the ball. We just have to look at Cardiff now and see what we can do to get three points.”
Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City arrive in west London having won their last six in the league to close the gap on Wolverhampton Wanderers to just three points. The game between the two sides at the Cardiff City Stadium in November ended 2-0 to The Bluebirds but John saw enough that day to suggest that Brentford can cause Warnock’s men some issues.
“They have been on a great run recently,” admitted John. “They have closed the gap on Wolves which a lot of people didn’t think was possible. We are looking at ourselves and trying to get three points tomorrow night. That has to be our aim. They are a decent side. The game at their place earlier in the season could have gone either way. We had a couple of good chances at 1-0. We didn’t take them and that came back to bite us. They are a good side. They try to match you up and stop you playing but we will try and find a way round that. A lot of teams in the Championship like the physical battle. They are good at what they do and their results show that. We will focus on ourselves and see what we can do to get chances.”
Andreas Bjelland’s calf injury, picked up in the defeat to Millwall on Saturday, means that John is likely to be partnered by Chris Mepham at the heart of The Bees backline tomorrow night. Chris has enjoyed a meteoric rise since making this league debut back in September and John has been very impressed by the progress that he has made.
“Chris’ progress has been brilliant,” said John. “He has been thrown in the deep end a couple of times, either starting last minute or coming on early, and he has dealt with it brilliantly. He performed really strongly on Saturday. I expect that of him as I see it on the training pitch every day. He is quick learner and he takes things in his stride. The fact is he is a good player and he shows that day in, day out in training. When he has got his chance in the team he has done very well. We are glad that he is part of our squad. He is still very young for a centre-half. He has shown great maturity in his performances because he is picking up things every day.”
John was one of two Brentford players, alongside Alan Judge, to be called up to Martin O’Neill’s provisional Republic of Ireland squad for a game against Turkey later this month. The 25-year-old made his debut last March against Iceland and won his second cap against Mexico in June. The Cork-native said it’s always an honour to get national recognition and is delighted to see Alan Judge back in the international fold after his return from injury.
“Any time you are called up for your country it’s a massively proud moment,” admitted John. “Alan Judge was out for a long time with injury so I am delighted that he is back playing and back in the Ireland squad. I got a good taste for it last year. It was a great experience for me but I am trying to push on and get into the squads on a more regular basis. My form at Brentford will dictate that.”
Tickets for Tuesday's game are on sale to Previous Purchasers now. With The Bees looking to close the gap to the Play-Offs, get behind Dean and the boys by getting your match tickets here.