The Sentinel - - FOOTBALL - Peter Smith [email protected]­sen­tinel.co.uk

TOM Ed­wards re­alises the weight that Nathan Jones places on full-backs – but also knows his Stoke City side need to de­fend a lot bet­ter than they did at Brent­ford.

A sell-out away end at Grif­fin Park had ar­rived with op­ti­mism after the club brought in a new man­ager in Nathan Jones who boasts one of the best win­ning and at­tack­ing ra­tios in English foot­ball over the last three years.

But there smiles didn’t last long and a 3-1 de­feat leaves Stoke in the bot­tom half of the Cham­pi­onship and eight points off the play-off places.

“It was tough,” said Ed­wards. “We wanted to start bet­ter than that, but we’ve only had a few days with the new gaffer and things are go­ing to take a bit of time.

“We worked hard and tried our best, but we just didn’t per­form to the lev­els we needed. We’re go­ing to keep go­ing. We’ve got a few more days with the gaffer now to work things through.”

He added: “What­ever the sys­tem, we have to be bet­ter in our de­fend­ing.

“We will look back on it and we’re go­ing to go over the game and work out what we should have done bet­ter and make sure that any mis­takes don’t hap­pen again.”

Jones im­me­di­ately started to use a di­a­mond for­ma­tion which has brought him a lot of joy at Luton Town, where right and left-backs were tasked with get­ting up and down the field and be­ing a main sup­ply of chances.

Ed­wards said: “He’s al­ready told us that he puts an em­pha­sis on full-backs, that we are a big part of his plan.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s a nar­row di­a­mond so we need to pro­vide the width and to take the ball for­ward. It was dif­fi­cult at Brent­ford, who were press­ing us hard and we didn’t have any op­tions.”

And de­spite the de­but de­feat, the man­ager has made a pos­i­tive first im­pres­sion on his new squad.

“I’ve loved it,” said Ed­wards. “The at­mos­phere he has brought in and the way he has been with the play­ers and all the staff has been first class.

“He’s taken his time to get to know ev­ery­one around the club and ev­ery­one re­spects him. We’re look­ing for­ward to work­ing un­der him.”

It was the fourth of four sell-out fol­low­ings for Stoke over Christ­mas and the new year – which have only mus­tered two goals and two draws. And that back­ing has not gone un­no­ticed from the play­ers.

“They are al­ways qual­ity,” said Ed­wards. “We knew they were go­ing to be right be­hind us and give us the best sup­port.

“We have to make sure that we get to our best as quickly as pos­si­ble. We don’t have the time to lose or draw too many games. We need to get a win­ning streak go­ing and to climb the ta­ble as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

NEW CHAL­LENGE: Tom Ed­wards says he’s look­ing for­ward to the Nathan Jones era

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