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"We truly respect Port Vale; they are a good team, doing well in League Two"

Thomas Frank ahead of Saturday's Emirates FA Cup tie against Port Vale

8 January 2022

Squad latest …

The good news is that Kristoffer Ajer will start. That is very positive; we need him to play. There are others who need to get up to speed.

Sergi Canós and Mathias Jensen will not be involved on Saturday but should be available for Southampton. Mathias could probably be pushed to be involved [on Saturday] but we won’t take the chance. Charlie Goode and Zanka are a little bit further away. Bryan Mbeumo will most likely be involved in the game on Saturday. Rico Henry is one step too early for Saturday.

It is about finding the right balance between playing a team that we think is strong enough to progress to the next round, giving some of the players that deserve minutes more minutes, and there are players that we would like to get going. I think there’s no problem playing Saturday, Tuesday, Sunday with the same starting XI but it is about finding that balance to put out the strongest team in all three games that can go at the highest intensity all three games.

Port Vale …

We truly respect Port Vale; they are a good team, doing well in League Two, in the Play-Offs. I will put a strong team out there with a strong squad to travel because I believe in keeping momentum. I would love to go on a cup run.

I’ve heard that playing away to Port Vale is tricky; I hope we have a very lively cup atmosphere. Darrell Clarke will put his strongest side out there because they have been hit by Covid and have had a lot of other games postponed because of Covid. He needs a game for his starting XI. We know they like to play and attack but we will be ready for that.

My approach will be the same. We will go in there and try to do it our way. We will try to attack the game from the first second. I am pretty sure we will be fine.

We watched them quite a lot the last two days; it is clear they want to play, want to combine, and overload the sides. From there they try to produce crosses or cutbacks. They also want to press high in spells. For me, we need to defend well and then, on the ball, find space on the sides because they are probably coming in the shape of 5-2-1-2. The space will be on the sides so we need to explore that and see if we can make breakthroughs there.

Putting in a performance on Saturday …

I hope and believe that we will put in a good performance where the bits that I massively believe in, like the culture, shine through everything. Maybe not everything is in sync, but we are a solid team that is working hard with a solid foundation. Hopefully it is easier for the players who step in because we have a clear style of play. It is good comparing the game against Forest Green in the Carabao Cup where we struggled first-half but got going in the second-half. We then had the Oldham game, which was a similar team with some normal starters and then some players coming off the bench, where we just had a better rhythm from the start. You never know what is going to face us, but we will be ready.

Regrouping after the Christmas period …

I was very transparent with the Carabao Cup run; I would have loved to have gone a step further and played a semi-final but when that didn’t happen, I must say, I was happy to have a week free to regroup everyone. We’ve been very hard done by injuries so hopefully this can help us. We are going into a spell of five games in two weeks. It is going to be tough from Saturday going forward.  

Jonas Lössl arriving …

We brought Jonas in because we wanted a bit more experience and cover. Matthew Cox is a keeper we believe massively in. I am 100 per cent sure there is a future for him at Brentford; he’s done very well the first six months he has been here. We also know that the Premier League is the best league in the world, and it is our first season here. We just need to be a little bit more cautious and have cover, if needed, in a season where anything can happen in terms of Covid and injuries. We are pleased that Jonas has joined us with his experience and level.

Marcus Forss …

Marcus Forss is a player we are very pleased with who has a great future ahead of him. We are open, in general, if clubs approach us for some of our players. I can’t say it will be a definite as so many things could happen between now and the end of the transfer window. One thing is for sure; at one stage in Marcus’ career, he needs to go out and play starting minutes week after week after week. He only experienced that in his spell at Wimbledon. That is important.

Squad sizes in Covid …

Covid is a curve ball that all clubs need to handle as, suddenly, you might need a tiny bit bigger squad because Covid’s just another way of having a player unavailable. In general, we need to think about what is best for their development and making sure we add value or develop their potential the best possible way.

Match Tickets will be available on the day. Tickets will be available for £18 Adult and £8 Juniors. Our hosts operate an away sales kiosk situated outside the away stand. It will open from 1pm for a 3pm kick off and is a cash only sales point. 

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