Lage | On being tighter at the back, taking chances and injuries

Bruno Lage has called on his players to eradicate the defensive mistakes after conceding ‘easy’ goals against Brentford and Tottenham Hotspur in the last seven days.

The head coach, who confirmed he will be without Yerson Mosquera and Rayan Ait-Nouri for this weekend’s Premier League trip to Southampton, after the pair came off injured in the Carabao Cup penalty shootout defeat to Spurs in midweek, is not ruling out playing a four-man defence or changing the same 11 players who began in the last three top-flight matches on Sunday, but knows his team need to improve at both ends of the pitch.

On injuries to Ait-Nouri and Mosquera

“With regards to Rayan, he needs to follow the concussion protocol, which means he will also be out for seven days.

“Yerson has a muscular injury, it’s not in the same area [as his previous injury] but it’s the same problem, so I think in this moment he will be out at least two months. It’s disappointing because I’m very happy with him. He’s a good boy, a fantastic player and brings us a big atmosphere in the building.

“After the way he started the pre-season with us he didn’t deserve what happened, coming out after five minutes.

“The way he’s been training for five or six weeks since he’s been involved in the team, he played some games in the under-23s and the way he started, played five or six minutes, and then comes off with that injury, it’s disappointing for everyone, but this is our life, and we have to support him because he’s a player for the present as well as for the future.”

On rotating his squad

“If I give chances for the players, they have to give me something. Boly, Hwang and don’t forget Podence, they all gave good games. But that’s why I analyse everything.

“It’s a long season and every moment is a moment, and after we need to see what players are better for each moment.

“It’s not just about one or two players, it’s about everything. You need to look at all four goals [against Spurs], offensively and defensively.”

On cutting out defensive mistakes

“We deserve more than we have, but this is our life. We need to continue to work because of the way we are creating chances, but also the way we are conceding chances to the opposition, it’s too easy, and these little details mean they are taking the points that we deserve.

“That is what happened in the last game. In my opinion, it was very easy for Tottenham to score goals. The first goal is three or four rebounds, one against one in the box, we lose our position and they score. The other one is Kane ran 30 metres against our goalkeeper.

“It’s easy to concede chances against us, so we need to continue to work to help our players and improve the little details that cost us.

“We’re creating the same chances, but we didn’t score. The game is about goals. In the first three games we did well not to concede too many chances, but in the last two games, the way we start, we cannot give those chances for the opponent.”

On improving in attack

“Last season, when Raul wasn’t here, the goals were coming from Pedro and Ruben. Pedro isn’t with us at the moment, and Ruben is a midfielder, so we shouldn’t be relying on him.

“When you look at where the goals should be coming from, you look at players such as Adama, Trincao, Daniel, they should give us more goals and be improving their average of goals.”

On needing a win

“I will go for that [a ‘scruffy’ performance] if you can promise me I will win the game. I believe any manager will take playing bad, only creating one chance as long as you win the game.

“Everyone would go for that way, but there’s no chance of that, so we try to play in the way that we create chances, we control the opponent and you score goals. This is the offensive way.

“But when we are defending, we need to be competitive. The opponent needs to feel we are a hard team to play against. That’s why I was unhappy with that first goal [on Wednesday], because Tottenham’s players won five rebounds. It cannot happen in our team.

“The opponents will see this and think we’re an easy team to play against. No. We cannot concede these types of goals. Brentford score one goal from one kick from the goalkeeper to the striker, he drove the ball into our box and he scored. You cannot concede a goal like that.

“These are the things we need to work on. We need to be harder to beat, more competitive, more aggressive, find the spaces, do the runs in behind and create problems for the opponent.”

On possibly playing a back four

“Yes, of course I have these decisions in my mind. I started with a line of four, but in the moment, I believe we are stronger with a line of five, that’s why.

“I played before with a 4-3-3, and Benfica I played 4-4-2 because I had players to play in that position, but now we have players to play with three centre-backs.

“That’s why Yerson is a player or the present and the future, that’s what we need to look for in the profile of centre-backs, we need to find guys like this and we have it in our squad.

“Guys with good technique, but you cannot forget that they are defenders, so they need to be fast and they need to be strong in the situations, one v ones and aerial duels. In these things, Yerson can give to us.

“We are stronger if we play with three in the back, but in the same way, we can play three at the back and be an offensive team.”