Brentford boss Thomas Frank has described goalkeeper David Raya’s injury as a “massive blow” but emphasised his trust in Alvaro Fernandez.
The Bees on Tuesday announced Raya had sustained knee ligament damage in Sunday’s Premier League loss to Leicester, with it expected he would be sidelined for four to five months.
Fellow Spaniard Fernandez, signed on loan from Huesca in August, subsequently played on Wednesday evening when Brentford won 2-1 at Stoke in the Carabao Cup fourth round, as he had in the Bees’ two previous matches in the competition.
Frank said in his post-match press conference: “It was a massive blow with David.
“I know it is only nine games, so not the biggest sample, but I think he has shown to be one of the better goalkeepers in the Premier League.
“If you really analyse his game, compare the other keepers, I think he is top six, top eight. I know I’m biased, but I also try to look at the other keepers. So of course it’s a massive blow, I’m devastated on his behalf.
“But there was a big thing from the club and me, we brought in another good keeper, so if worst case scenario (happened)…
“We’re calm, and we trust Alvaro. I was very pleased to see another fine performance from him (against Stoke).”
Frank added: “We looked for a similar profile, one that is good in the build-up. We want them to be brave to get out in the box, and he is good in one-on-one situations as well. So we are pleased with Alvaro.”
Fernandez, who is set to make his Premier League debut at Burnley on Saturday, told Brentford’s official website: “I wish David a good recovery. We are team-mates, but we are friends as well.
“Now it is a good opportunity for me, I’m going to try to make my best. In football you have to be ready, always. I’ve tried to work every day as hard as possible. I think I’m ready, so let’s go.”
Brentford scored via Sergi Canos and Ivan Toney – two of the three players retained in the starting line-up from the Leicester game – in the 22nd and 40th minutes respectively at the bet365 Stadium.
Former Brentford man Romaine Sawyers replied in the 57th but Stoke could not add to that, while the visitors were thwarted in the closing stages by Potters goalkeeper Joe Bursik as he denied Toney and substitute Tariqe Fosu-Henry in one-on-one situations.
Stoke boss Michael O’Neill, whose side had also lost each of their previous three Championship matches, said: “We had to obviously go for it in the last 10, 12 minutes, which we did.
“We knew that would leave us a little bit open. Brentford had made substitutions that strengthened them.
“But Joe made two or three very good saves, two one-on-one saves in particular that were very good, and I was pleased with his performance.
“I thought in the first half we probably put him under unnecessary pressure by our choices. We passed the ball to him under pressure and he’s had to kick the ball into the wind.
“Also, for the two goals, he had no chance. We should have won the tackles and done better than we did with the two goals that we lost.”