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Johnson feels squad growing in strength

With just a couple more players nearing full fitness, Lee Johnson is feeling the strength of his squad and the healthy competition at his disposal.

Korey Smith is now back from long-term injuries, defenders Tomas Kalas and Jay Dasilva are getting ever closer to their respective returns and with the demands of the season in full swing, the importance of the squad game is clear to see.

“I feel we are getting stronger absolutely, as players come back to fitness, as players integrate back into the squad,” the Robins head coach said.

“[There are] still a couple out with the likes of [Tomas] Kalas and Jay Dasilva and obviously they make us even stronger. It’s not easy, it’s not easy to pick the bench actually. The team (starting 11) feels easier to pick but the bench feels very difficult to select because naturally you don’t want to leave people out of the squad.

“Sometimes you need to change the bench depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. Yes you want the consistency and hopefully by winning football matches that 11 can stay consistent and obviously it’s up to the players not in that starting XI to force their way on.

“In one sense, it’s really healthy competition but of course players want that carrot at the end of the week to go and perform and execute the work that has been done in training.”

After a solid week’s work off the back of a confidence-boosting 5-2 win over Huddersfield Town, City get set to take on another side to have recently dropped down from the Premier League in Scott Parker’s Fulham.

“It’s a really big test. You look at Fulham as one of the fancied sides given the riches and qualities of the squad,” Johnson continued.

“It didn’t quite work for them last year in the Premier League but at Championship level they are very experienced and have got real quality players. It’s a good test for us away from home, we have had a decent record against Fulham in recent years and the fans always enjoy a match in West London.”

And the Robins will head to Craven Cottage on Saturday (December 7th, 3pm KO) where they have sold out the away end.

“I know there is a bit of ground work being done but at the same time [that is] even more reason for us to be the noise!” Johnson said.

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