Thomas Frank admits Brentford’s recent defensive lapses are a concern but believes he has the centre-halves to ensure the Bees’ automatic promotion push gets back on track.
Brentford’s unbeaten 21-game run was ended unceremoniously by Barnsley last Sunday before QPR inflicted a second loss in a week on Wednesday, with the Championship high-flyers only registering two clean sheets in their last 16 league matches and none since beating Luton 1-0 on January 20.
Those defensive difficulties have coincided with the absence of talismanic skipper Pontus Jansson, who has not played since a 0-0 draw with Derby in December as he recovers from ankle surgery which could keep him out until the end of the season.
Frank axed Ethan Pinnock for the clash with QPR, handing a debut to veteran centre-back Winston Reid who acquitted himself well in his first 90 minutes of football for over two years.
“Last year the biggest thing we achieved was to improve our defensive side of the game and conceded among the fewest goals in the division,” Frank said.
“This season we have conceded 10 goals in our last six matches which is way too much.
“But if you look all the underlying numbers like goals expected against, which is important, we are still the best team in the league.
“But you need to look at the actual goals. Some of them are down to small margins where you are a little bit unlucky, but some are down to actual mistakes and that is the bit we need to do better at.
“I would say the last six or seven goals we have conceded were avoidable and it is clear they were down to individual mistakes.
“We need to get rid of them and try to go back to our normal standards.”
Jansson’s injury and the struggles of Charlie Goode to step up after his £1m move from League One side Northampton in the summer saw the Bees move to sign Reid on loan from West Ham last month.
Despite his steady display at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium the New Zealand international looks likely to drop back to the bench against Coventry at St Andrews on Saturday, with Frank insisting Pinnock and Mads Bech-Sorensen are still his first-choice pairing.
“The reason we took Winston in is because we only had two centre-backs and if one of them need a rest or there is an injury we need one more,” he said.
“I was very pleased with his performance, he hasn’t played much football but he is in a good place and with that in mind he did very well.
“But Mads and Ethan have been two of our most solid performers this season and although I like the qualities Winston brings to the side, I still have faith in them.”