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Ahead of another testing week of Championship fixtures, wise owl journalist, Jim Levack, shares his thoughts on how the first team players have coped to date, and what will be expected as the Championship marathon progresses. Do you agree with his assessment of the players? share your thoughts on @beesotted Twitter or leave a comment below the article.

 

As the season kicked off I don’t mind admitting – in hindsight of course – that I felt some trepidation at the scale of the task ahead.

Like a looming trip to the dentist that gets ominously closer each day, I was checking the other sides’ experienced midfields, well drilled defences and mainly, it has to be said, their immense firepower.

Brentford appeared, if the media sources were correct, to miss out on a string of strikers before snapping up Hogan and Gray – who sounded like a couple of bootleggers from an old cowboy film.

But, as games have come thick and fast, I don’t mind admitting that my initial fears have proved largely unfounded as Mark Warburton’s men have adapted well to the more physical and ruthless demands of the Championship.

I was wrong about one of two players, who I’d told my lads wouldn’t be able to mix it. See if you agree.

David Button
I wasn’t sure about his capacity to keep Richard Lee out of the frame, but his shot stopping ability has earned us at least six points already this season. His distribution, too, has improved and despite the odd glitch he’s got a decent ping on him and sees potential for turning defence into attack quickly, witness the long ball to Andre Gray that led to our second against Brighton. Remember also that he’s only 25, a mere babe for a keeper who will only get better as he starts to dominate his area even more.

Jake Bidwell
When I told my boys that I didn’t think he had the pace over the first 10 yards to deal with pacy Championship wingers, they shot me down in flames – and they were right. He’s clearly worked hard on all aspects of his game, particularly his delivery in the final third which has improved to the extent that he’s like another winger. He’s resilient, barrel chested and strong too and maintains great concentration for a young player.

Tony Craig
His reading of the game and situations is a lesson to all young pros. What he lacks in raw pace he makes up for in composure and awareness and he is now moving quite effortlessly towards being one of the best and importantly, most consistent, centre backs we’ve seen at the club.

James Tarkowski
He always looked the part when he played against us, but he has pushed on this season and his massive learning curve shows no signs of faltering. Strong, intelligent and combative, he and Harlee Dean are learning a lot from playing alongside Craig. Tellingly, he also seems willing to learn from incidents like the double booking at Orient and is destined to play at a higher level.

Harlee Dean
After finding himself edged out by Tarkowski, he has showed just the kind of response Warburton will have wanted. Rumours that he was un happy after just a few games on the bench were alarming given the fact that a squad with strength in depth will be even more important than ever this term. Came in against Wednesday, had a stormer and gave the boss the best kind of headache.

Alan McCormack
For a bloke who isn’t a natural right back he has adapted gradually to the demands of the Championship after a slightly edgy start. A swashbuckling, marauding – whatever adjective you choose – right back who is strong going forward but who will face stern tests against pac wingers. I’m a big fan of his versatility and the fact that he could easily slot into midfield in a proper battle. He will be missed over the next three months and a combative replacement will be a massive priority for the management team.

Alan Judge
Pound for pound arguably the best signing Brentford have ever made, he’s always capable of smashing in a piledriver – something we need to see more of from our midfielders. He has energy by the bucket-load, quick feet and the perfect attitude. Even when he has a quiet game, the opposition know they can;t take their eye off him. Livewire.

Jota

 
Fluid, fluent and technically gifted, he has adapted incredibly well and incredibly quickly to the English game. Has a tendency to drift in and out of games, but always sets the pulse racing when he’s on the ball. His tackling back has been a surprising element of his game – not afraid to put a shift in.

Jon Toral
A player I’d like to see a bit more of. He looks technically, good on the ball and intelligent. Importantly, he also looks well equipped to copy with the extra physicality of the Championship.

Jonathan Douglas
Has made the step up seamlessly. The engine room, the guvnor who keeps things ticking over nicely and consistently. My only concern is do we have enough enforcement cover when he’s out.

Moses Odubajo

 
A good steady start, it’s important that his price tag doesn’t increase expectation to such a high level that it stifles him. He is, after all, young and in his first season in the Championship. Does have a tendency to drift in games but his blistering pace and quick feet mean that once he finds a level of consistency he will fully justify the outlay.

Andre Gray
For me, one of the best signings we’ve made in recent years and proof that there is talent lower down the pyramid. Quick, strong with great movement and capable of turning either way, he’s the epitome of the mobile forward willing to run in behind the lines. He won’t be complaining but it’s possibly too much of an ask for him to be banging goals in every week and his goals to chances ratio is what you’d expect from someone making such a quantum leap. ideally he could do with some support up top, but he will definitely learn more and quicker by not having it.

Nick Proschwitz
Big Nick probably hasn’t had the opportunity he’d have wanted to make his mark, due largely to the performances of Andre Gray, but he has shown enough in his brief cameos to suggest there is more to come once he gets his eye in and has a decent run of matches to get the sharpness back. Whether he – or indeed Gray – are the answer to the elusive striker riddle remains to be seen, but it is a hole that needs addressing before the busy Christmas schedule.

Jim Levack

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