Brentford boss Thomas Frank admits Ivan Toney struggled against Southampton on Tuesday but remains confident the striker can rediscover the form that fired his side to promotion last season.
Toney was well contained by the Saints in Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat at St Mary’s and has not found the net in his past nine games – with only two of his four Premier League goals coming from open play.
The 25-year-old plundered 31 goals last to help Brentford end their 74-year wait for a place in the top flight but Frank insists he has full faith in Toney ahead of Sunday’s difficult trip to Anfield to face Liverpool.
“Against Southampton he was in and around some dangerous situations but the ball didn’t even get in behind or into him, but he was where he should be in the box and that, for me, is the most important thing,” Frank said.
“But he wasn’t sharp and lost too many balls to his normal standards, but I think it is fair to say Ivan wasn’t the only one, it was the whole team – there were not many positive performances.”
Although the Bees sit 10 points clear of the bottom three, Frank admits he is concerned about the slow starts his side are making in games, with Southampton’s fifth-minute goal from Jan Bednarek the 12th time in their last 13 matches they have conceded first.
Although they have come back to take points from four of those encounters, including recent wins over Watford and Aston Villa, Frank said his players need to begin games more positively.
“It concerns me and is something we need to address as defending is something we normally do well,” Frank said.
“We didn’t play a top game first half against Southampton, but we only gave away three chances, two set-piece goals, which we are usually very strong at, and a half-chance.
“So it wasn’t like they created chance after chance, but on the defensive side of the game we need to be better.”