Mark Robinson will be able to call on a trio of first-team regulars for the trip to Portsmouth on Saturday, but he has a problem to solve for the right-back position at Fratton Park.
Ben Heneghan, Alex Woodyard, and Anthony Hartigan have all shrugged off knocks to make the squad, offering a boost to the spine of our side. However, Cheye Alexander is facing a spell out with an ankle injury and Henry Lawrence has returned from the international break with an illness. Unfortunately, the terms of Huseyin Biler’s loan agreement with Welling United means that he’s not eligible for this match.
In addition, Aaron Pressley is also a doubt, but George Marsh could be in the squad earlier than expected after recovering from a broken bone in his foot.
In his update ahead of Saturday’s game, Robbo said: “Cheye is going to be out for six to eight weeks after his injury at Sutton, so it was key to get Henry back, but he’s got tonsillitis now, so we sent him home yesterday. We are not sure if he will be involved, so we could have no natural right-back, which isn’t ideal, but we will find a solution.
“Ben is just managing his knee, but he is fine, and Anthony had a problem with his toe after it got trod on, but he has trained and he will be okay. With Woody, it’s just something we need to manage. On a positive note, George Marsh has come through training, so he may be involved on Saturday. We just need to check how many minutes he could possibly do, and see how he has reacted to his first full training session.
“Aaron has also come back from international duty and he had to dip out of training with a sore throat so we are hoping that’s not too bad.”
Robbo added that he’s excited by the challenge of his players testing themselves at Fratton Park, where the home faithful have earned a reputation for creating a great atmosphere.
“I went to watch them last week against Wycombe and in the second-half the game really came to life. The Portsmouth fans were really lively from start to finish, so we know the atmosphere is going to be good on Saturday, and I’m sure we will have good travelling numbers there, so we are really looking forward to it.
“We try to replicate the intensity of a game all of the time, but the atmosphere is something you can’t replicate. Over time you want them to relish it, that’s what they play football for, so they are in good spirits and looking forward to it.”
At the end of a week that has included Robbo and the club’s management issuing an update about their strategy to take AFC Wimbledon forward, our Head Coach said: “I’ve had some positive messages from fans, but I think it’s only football that looks at this as a big thing. I’ve worked many years out of football and in any business you make sure that everyone knows what direction you are going in and how you want to do it because you need to have alignment. If you haven’t got alignment between everyone how can you put together a plan and bring it to life?
“Brentford fans have known what direction they are heading in for many years, so it’s just letting the fans know what we want the club want to do and how we want to achieve it. It’s really important that we are all in it together. In terms of player and fan attachment, I want to take it to somewhere that it’s never been before. Hopefully making fans aware of the challenges we face – not making excuses – will get that little bit of empathy and support when it’s needed.
“I’m not going to sit here talking about injuries and budgets. That’s not my thing because it brings people down and you want fans to have high expectancy. Within that, people may not have been quite aware of the challenges we face.
"There are positives. I know Joe mentioned the budget, but within that we are spending a lot on our young pros – a huge amount compared to clubs with similar budgets that are just putting it into their first-team. That’s because we have one eye on the future. As the Head Coach I’m willing to accept that because I know that if we get it right it’s something that will come to fruition in the next few years and more players will start to come through.”