Frank backs Watkins to continue to shine

Thomas Frank believes Ollie Watkins is a “Ronaldo-type” player who could have a breakout season in his new central role.

The Bees forward, who recently penned a new long-term contract at the club, grabbed his second goal Championship goal in two games when he scored the equaliser against Hull City on Saturday.

It continues to mark the 24-year-old’s transition from playing a supportive role behind Neal Maupay to spearheading the Bees attack.

Now that the Frenchman has left for Brighton, Watkins is expected to lead the front line – with Sergi Canos and Said Benrahma either side of him.

Frank says Watkins has the capacity to play both positions, but when asked which position he flourishes best in he added: “It’s a big comparison so I don’t want to go down that route but, in a way, I’ve mentioned it now. He’s like a Ronaldo-type.

“He can play as a nine or he can play to the side, or he can play as a 10, but because he’s so versatile he has abilities you can benefit off in all positions.

“Then it’s about getting the best out of him and the team. It’s not like he’s the main man, but how can we get the two, three, four best players we have in the best possible positions to make it click?

“At this moment in time, I think he’s the most natural nine we have, that’s why it makes sense to play him there. If we still had Neal we’d play Neal there and then we’d play him in another position.

“[But he has the abilities] as a nine to run in behind, and what Neal maybe had more was the link-up play where he was second-to-none in the Championship.

“Going in behind, Ollie is more natural and better than Neal if I should say so. It’s different. If he played as a 10, Ollie, I’d still think he was really good at running at people but also running in behind.”

Bees boss Frank has praised Watkins for his commitment to the new role and was delighted with the goal he scored against Hull.

Brentford were trailing to a Jarrod Bowen opener before Watkins prodded him Canos’ driven low cross to level the score on 72 minutes.

Although there are some aspects to improve, Frank is pleased with the progress he has seen so far.

He said: “He’s been very focused and willing to learn and he likes to play that role.

“I really liked the goal. It was a very, very good strike at goal. You need to spring in between the two defenders and attack the low cross.

“For him, for us, that start he had has been good. [But] you can’t neglect that he hit the bar and the post in the first game against Birmingham.

“It’s been a good start for him, but we also need to see what I’m talking about. We need some more goals from some of the other 10s up there, other players, and that will come. I’m confident.”