Alan Judge was positive about his return to the Brentford team and the appointment of Kevin O’Connor as the new assistant manager.
However, there is no festive joy collectively at Brentford at present, as the Bees approach a crucial part of their season — the Christmas period — for all the wrong reasons.
With just one win in eleven for Bees manager Thomas Frank the pressure is on to perform over the coming fixtures. They play Hull, Bolton, Bristol City, Birmingham and Norwich before an FA Cup Third Round tie against Oxford United at the beginning of January.
A loss against Hull on Saturday will see the Tigers leap-frog Brentford, while they could drop to a solitary point above the relegation zone if results don’t go their way elsewhere in the Championship.Embed from Getty Images
“This is a period where players have to stand up and be counted. We have got to get out of it,” Judge said.
He continued: “You have to look at the numbers. They show we can be relegated and you have to mention that word. We can’t be arrogant to think that we are not involved in a relegation scrap.”
Although the Bees approach a tough part of the season with games against teams in similarly perilous positions, Judge is just relieved to be playing. The 30-year-old has been fighting to play a full match since suffering a double leg break against Ipswich Town in 2016.
“There was a time when I was thinking ‘maybe I am not going to get back in here’ because players come in and that’s the way it goes,” Judge said.
The 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough was Judge’s first full 90 minutes in almost three years. His performance was impressive enough to earn him two more full games against Sheffield Wednesday and West Brom.Embed from Getty Images
He said: “I was a bit frustrated because my game time was a bit limited under Dean Smith. I missed the time on a Saturday knowing you are going to play and I have got that back over the last few weeks and I have loved every minute of it.
“I’ve always felt if I was given a chance — a run of two or three games — I could retake my spot.”
Utilised predominantly on the left wing so far this season when coming off the bench, Judge spent some time in his preferred central role during the game at the Hawthorns.
Experience is clearly lacking and the team look unable to respond to this poor run. The latest loss against Swansea showed that nerves are getting the better of this young squad.
If Frank can get the best out of Judge, and use his experience to balance the team, he could play an important role in stabilising the group.
Featured photograph/Adam Le Roux