Thomas Frank has confirmed Christian Eriksen will make his Brentford debut in Saturday’s crucial match against Newcastle, completing an emotional return to football for the Denmark international eight months after his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.
Last month Eriksen joined the Bees on a contract until the end of the season, having departed Internazionale in December. Brentford have been keen not to rush him back but he has played two friendlies, making two assists in the secondagainst a Rangers XI, and Frank is convinced the 30-year-old is in good shape to return. Eriksen is expected to appear from the bench during the second half.
“Christian will be in the squad, he will get on the pitch for his debut tomorrow, it will be amazing,” he said. “It is a big day for all of us, but especially Christian and his family. Everyone saw what happened [last summer] and it is another reminder that we are privileged to do what we do, so we need to appreciate every moment.”
Eriksen has been fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and Frank explained it would provide security for the player, who aims to return to Denmark’s squad for the World Cup.
“The key thing is that everything has been checked, it is all good with zero chance that something should happen,” Frank said. “He and his family are aligned that he should play football, which is very important.”
Frank cautioned that it could take three or four games for Eriksen to regain full sharpness but expressed contentment with the player’s physical adaptation. “When he went into team training with high intensity his body reacted well, which means he’s in a good place,” he said.
“Then it was just about timing, tempo, intensity, a lot of players around him, taking the right decisions. He was getting a bit better week by week by week. Now he needs to get that intuitive feeling, decision-making, back that you need at the highest level.
“We will need a few games to get him going under max, but I would not put him in there if I didn’t think he could provide something now.”
Brentford will be staring a relegation battle in the face if they lose against Eddie Howe’s side, who are three places and two points below in 17th but have two games in hand, and Frank hopes the 109-times capped Eriksen can boost them with his experience.
“There is no doubt he is the player with the biggest CV who has ever played for Brentford,” he said. “You can see it mainly in his quality. When you see him training, it is remarkable the things he has been doing. There is also all of his experience, small conversations with players over where you want the ball when you give it to others [and] when they should be cool on the pitch.”
Brentford have only taken one point from their past seven games but expect to welcome back Ivan Toney, their centre-forward, from injury to face his former club.