Onariase can push for first-team place – Smith

Dean Smith

Brentford head coach Dean Smith believes defender Emmanuel Onariase can compete for a first-team spot.

Onariase, 19, was brought in from West Ham and was the Bees’ only signing in January as they failed to land a senior replacement for centre-back James Tarkowski, who was sold to Burnley.

But Smith insists teenager Onariase has all the attributes to fight for a place alongside Harlee Dean, Jack O’Connell and Yoann Barbet.

He said: “He’s a ball-playing centre-back who will go and compete as well. He fits the mould of the football club of players we’re looking for.

“He’s a young player, he’s learning the game as he’s going, but he’s been training regularly with West Ham’s first-team squad, I think that gets overlooked slightly.

“Anybody who knows my history will know that I’m not afraid of throwing young players in if I think they’re quite capable.”