Brentford boss Thomas Frank has hailed Christian Eriksen’s fitness levels and standing in the dressing room ahead of his return to competitive football.
The 30-year-old will make his Bees debut against Newcastle on Saturday, just eight months after suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020. After leaving Inter late last year, he spent time training with Ajax and boyhood club Odense to build up his fitness again.
Eriksen received offers from numerous other Premier League clubs but opted to join newly promoted Brentford on an initial six-month deal, reuniting with his former Danish youth coach Frank.
Ahead of Eriksen’s return, Frank told 90min that he has been trying to quickly integrate the midfielder into his plans, comparing his arrival with that of Ivan Toney’s last year ahead of his superb debut season in west London.
“I like to try [to talk to] all the players a tiny bit every day, but of course there’s players like Christian Norgaard, Pontus [Jansson], David Raya, Ivan Toney – they are the four in the captain’s group, so I speak to them a little more than other players,” Frank said.
“I naturally speak more with Christian [Eriksen] because he is in that experienced bracket, plus the situation, we want him getting up to speed.
“I’ve been speaking to Christian three times of half an hour to 45 minutes about everything, how he is, how we do things, his physical [condition], tactics, the plan, where I see him and all that.
“But I’d say it’s the same amount of time [spent talking to] I used on, for example, Ivan Toney when he came to the club – an important player who I want to play and I want integrated as quick as possible. I use a lot of time on them in the beginning because I know that if they work, the team will get better and we will have a greater chance of success.
“I think that’ll be an ongoing process with Christian going forward. When everything is clicking, I will still speak to him but it will be a little less.”
Frank was initially unsure of how long it was going to take for Eriksen to get up to speed after joining the club and it was implied that he may not have returned to action until late in the season.
But Eriksen stepped up his comeback with two behind-closed-doors friendlies recently and is set to make his Brentford bow little over three weeks after signing, with Frank quick to praise his fitness levels.
“I think first and foremost he’s done a good job together with his personal coach in terms of getting a good physical foundation, so when he came he was in a good physical place,” Frank said.
“After the first week where he went from, not zero but into team training with high intensity and people around him, his body reacted quite well to that. That means his body was in a good place. Then it was just about timing, tempo, intensity, a lot of players around him, taking the right decisions, and you can just see he’s getting a bit better week by week by week.
“Now he’s in a good place, now it’s that game rhythm that he needs to get into his body and get that intuitive feeling or decision making at the highest level. I am convinced he will do well tomorrow, but I also know it will probably take, whatever, three or four games until he’s more likely to play a ten out of ten. It’s difficult for all players to play a ten out of ten but I think tomorrow he will play on pure energy and enthusiasm.
“It will just take that [bit more time] to get that rhythm and consistency in all his crosses, set pieces and actions. You need that rhythm.”