herald

Sunday 28 May 2017

Egan hoping his Bees can take the sting out of Costa

Chelsea striker Diego Costa faces Brentford tomorrow
Chelsea striker Diego Costa faces Brentford tomorrow
Brentford’s Irish defender John Egan

John Egan only needs a few seconds to answer when asked to name the best player he has come up against in his career to date.

"Alvaro Morata," Egan says with little hesitation. "I marked him when we played Spain in the U19 European Championship finals a few years back, you could see even then he was world class."

There could be a new contenders for most dangerous opponent by the time this weekend's football action is finished, as Egan and his Brentford team-mates are tasked with keeping Chelsea - and possibly Diego Costa - quiet in their FA Cup game.

That's the same Costa who is the joint-top scorer in the Premier League and the same table-topping Chelsea who have failed to score in just one of their last 22 games, a side who put four goals past a lower division side in their most recent FA Cup game. Brentford, on the other hand, have won just two of their last seven.

It's just six miles to Stamford Bridge from Brentford's home of Griffin Park but there's a big distance between the two sides, as Egan knows, so that's why he's not too hung up on the prospect of keeping Costa (if selected) quiet.

Testing

"These are the players you want to be testing yourself against. Chelsea are the best team in the country at the moment, they are firing on all cylinders so it's a very big ask for us.

"But on a personal level I am looking forward to coming up against some of the best players in the league. I'm excited by it, not scared by it," Egan told The Herald.

"Morata was good that time I came up against him with the Irish team, so it will be interesting to take on someone like Diego Costa.

"He makes defenders' lives a misery, he bangs in the goals every week, but I am trying not to focus too much on any individual they have, Costa might not play but whoever they pick, it'll be a hard game for us. We're excited by the Cup tie and we hope we can go and impress.

"Chelsea are a fantastic team, every one of their players is a full international.

"But we have to go there with the mindset that it's a Cup game and anything can happen. Once we go and give a good account of ourselves, that's the main thing. It's going to be a tough Cup tie but we have to treat it like any game," added the 24-year-old.

Unfortunately for the Bees supporters, Brentford have not given a good account of themselves on a weekly basis in the competition that counts most for them, the Championship, and are 15th in the league, way off the pace in the promotion race.

"We should be higher up the table and closer to the play-offs than we are.

Tough

"We look back on a few games that we threw away but in the Championship, which is a very tough league, you have to turn up every week and we just haven't done that," says Egan, admitting that the loss through injury of compatriot Alan Judge (out since last March) has harmed the Bees.

Apart from Egan there could be an Irish presence in the Brentford side at Stamford Bridge tomorrow as 19-year-old midfielder Tom Field, capped twice at U16 level by the Republic, could feature, but there's still no clarity on the future of Scott Hogan, the free-scoring Brentford forward who is eligible to, but seemingly unenthusiastic about, wearing the green shirt.

"Scott has been fantastic for us and scored a lot of goals but I have no idea what he will do at international level," says Egan, who of course has ambitions of his own. "It's not easy to get into that Irish squad. I have full belief in my own ability, and if and when I am called upon I feel I could contribute, it would be a dream come true to get into that squad and win a cap," he says.

"I can only focus on playing well for Brentford, if I keep my form up at club level then people will take notice.

"That's my goal, to do well at club level and see where that takes me.

"Most of the Irish squad are in the Championship as well, I just need that break."

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