Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith is targeting a good run in the Emirates FA Cup as National League side Eastleigh head to Griffin Park on Saturday. The Bees were knocked out at this stage by lower league opposition, in the shape of Dean's former side Walsall, 12 months ago but, with a near fully-fit squad to choose from, Dean believe a good cup run will have a positive effect throughout the club.
Speaking to Bees Player ahead of the match, Dean said: “Scott Hogan has a glute problem so he has been to see a back specialist. If he is fit to play, then naturally he will be in the team but if he is not then I won’t risk him. He is 50/50 for Saturday and Andreas Bjelland has had some ankle problems we have had to have a look at. Other than that everybody is fighting fit. We want to progress. It hurt last year going out against my former club Walsall but somebody had put together a fixture list that included Middlesbrough on the Tuesday afterwards and Burnley on the Friday. We haven’t got that this year so we can certainly prioritise it a lot more than we did last year. We can focus solely on this game and hopefully get good draws along the way. A cup run engages everyone at the football club: supporters like it as do the staff and the players too. It has been stressed to the players that we do well and go and get a good cup run.”
Standing in The Bees way on Saturday are National League side Eastleigh, managed by former Bees boss Martin Allen. The Spitfires have already downed North Leigh, Swindon Town, and FC Halifax Town on their way to the Third Round and Dean will not be taking Allen's side lightly on Saturday.
“Their squad is littered with league appearances,” said Dean. “They have all played in the Football League and they know what it is about. We know that it will be a tough game. There is a lot of experience in their squad. We are one of the youngest squads in the Championship so we know that we have to be right at it to go and get the right result. There is a lot of quality in the National League. I have seen a number of games and there are only a handful of teams that are part time now. The overseas influence at the top level has filtered the quality down into the leagues below. The National League has that quality and with full-time teams it is a tough proposition.”
Eastleigh boss Martin Allen enjoyed two successful years at Griffin Park as Brentford manager between 2004 and 2006. His time with The Bees is best remembered for consecutive runs to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, which included victory over Premier League Sunderland in 2005 and taking Southampton to a replay the following season. Dean feels it is only right that Allen is given a fitting reception this weekend but added that The Bees still have a job to do.
“Martin will get a warm welcome here,” said Dean. “I know him really well and he is a really good guy. He is very passionate and he will get the reception that he deserves for what he did while he was here. It is a potential banana skin for us. Everyone will expect us to go and beat opposition from a lower division but it is down to us to make sure we are very professional about it and treat them with the respect they deserve.”