PNE boss warns of Bees’ sting

Brentford's top scorer Alan Judge has been subject of interest from Burnley
Brentford's top scorer Alan Judge has been subject of interest from Burnley
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Simon Grayson will put Brentford’s recent results and transfer issues to one side as he prepares Preston North End for their clash with the Bees at Deepdale.

Although the London outfit have lost their last four games and speculation surrounds the future of two of their players, PNE boss Grayson is not taking them lightly.

“Brentford are a good team and have some really good individual players,” said Grayson.

“On their day they can be as good as anyone in this division with the players they have got.

“You saw contrasting performances from them in last week’s game against Burnley which was on television.

“They were poor in the first half but in the second half were much better and played very well.

“We will have to do everything right against them to get a result this weekend.

“Brentford have got players like Alan Judge who will hurt you if he is allowed to.”

Midfielder Judge has been subject of interest from Burnley, as has centre-half James Tarkowski.

When the Clarets visited Griffin Park last Friday, Judge played and scored the Bees’ consolation in a 3-1 defeat.

Tarkowski chose to sit it out, asking not to play amid talk of a big-money move to Turf Moor.

Looking at the situation from the outside, Grayson said: “These things are never easy and different players react in different ways.

“Alan Judge decided the best way to cope with the issue was to play, James Tarkowski decided it was best not to play.

“Modern-day footballers can be advised rightly and wrongly. I think Alan Judge’s way was the right one – he let his football do the talking.

“But I also understand the other lad’s view, it is a difficult one.

“All that I can say is that when I have been in a situation with players who are subject to this kind of thing, the best advice is to tell them to go out and play and see where it takes them.

“What happens at Brentford is not my problem, Dean Smith can deal with it.”

Smith became Brentford head coach at the end of November, swapping Walsall for West London.

The job Smith did in turning the Saddlers from relegation candidates into a side pushing for promotion attracted plenty of interest.

Rotherham saw an approach for his services rejected in the autumn but Brentford fared better with their pursuit.

Smith replaced Marinus Dijkhuizen, who had only been in post since the summer after replacing Mark Warburton. He will be hoping to keep hold of Judge and Tarkowski during the transfer window.

Former Blackburn player Judge is the Bees’ top scorer with 11 Championship goals.

Talking in glowing terms about Judge, Smith said: “He’s a catalyst for what we do, he’s a really good player and a good person.

“I’ve got no qualms about anyone in the dressing room. They’re all really good lads.

“We forget these players are human beings and they’re young lads.

“Heads can get turned but some handle it better than others and Alan Judge epitomises what this football club is about.

“Against Burnley last week, I thought Alan Judge was very good.

“He showed why so many people are looking at him and are aware of him and why our valuation is right.”

After two wins and a draw during the Christmas period, 2016 has not started well for the Bees.

They have lost to Birmingham, Middlesbrough and Burnley in the league, while Smith’s former club Walsall knocked them out of the FA Cup.

Earlier in the season, North End lost the reverse fixture 2-1 at Griffin Park.

Daniel Johnson fired PNE into an early lead but a poor second-half display allowed the Bees back in.