BRENTFORD start the League One season at home to Scunthorpe on Saturday (3pm) without new skipper Ricky Newman as he underwent a knee operation on Tuesday.

Manager Martin Allen, who has challenged his players to meet the high standards he has set or be shipped out, told the Times: "Ricky is likely to be side-lined for about six weeks.

"After the injury was treated three weeks ago he had one week of full rest and then started gentle training. But the injury reoccurred.

"Of course this is a blow, but it will make us even stronger and our resolve even greater. Michael Turner will stand in as captain."

Newman, one of six new signings, was being troubled by the knee on which he underwent cruciate ligament surgery five years ago while at Reading, so he has had it cleaned up.

The experienced mid-fielder, who celebrates his 35th birthday today (Friday), said: "I needed to have a plug' that had been inserted in the knee removed because the joint had become swollen.

"Probably Brentford fans are concerned the club has signed an injured player, but this isn't serious and I am determined to give my all as a player and as captain, a job I held for a while at both Reading and Millwall."

Newman backs Allen's demands that everyone "fits in or gets out" and that if players suffer a blip as did Newman, Lloyd Owusu and Paul Brooker at Reading they quickly bounce back.

He added: "Lloyd, Paul and I were no longer wanted by Steve Coppell at Reading, but that has made us all the more determined to succeed at Brentford.

"The gaffer has nailed his wife's bike to the wall of his office at our Osterley training ground to get across the message that if we fall off our bike we get back on and peddle even harder. And that's what we will do."

Keeper Stuart Nelson has made a quicker-than-expected recovery from a hernia operation and will be facing Scunthorpe in preference to Ademole Bankole if he recovers from a "dead leg" that forced him to go off in his comeback match on Monday, when Brentford lost 1-0 to Hampton & Richmond.

Brooker and Marcus Gayle have recovered from injury, but Gayle may start on the subs' bench, together with strikers DJ Campbell and Scott Fitzgerald, while Isaiah Rankin partners Owusu up front in a 4-4-2 formation.

But the Rankin-Owusu partnership did not last long last Saturday as Brentford, captained by Turner, lost 1-0 at Woking, with Steve Ferguson's first-half strike inflicting their second defeat of the pre-season campaign Former Bees Lloyd Blackman and Steven Evans brought smart saves from Bankole, while Woking keeper Shwan Jalal twice foiled Jay Tabb.

After 31 minutes Allen made his first change, Campbell replacing Sam Sodje.

This forced a re-shuffle, with Michael Dobson moving to centre-half, Kevin O'Connor to right-back and Rankin to the right side of the midfield, leaving Campbell to partner Owusu up front.

Sam Tillen came on for Oli Skulason at half-time and produced a brilliant 25-yard volley that was tipped round the post by Jalal, who then saved well from Campbell.

The Bees' final chance came in the 82nd minute.

Jalal failed to deal with Tabb's outswinging corner and Eddie Hutchinson's header was blocked on the line by two defenders before Jalal smothered the ball.

Brentford: Bankole; Dobson, Turner (capt), Sodje (Campbell, 31mins) Frampton; O'Connor, Skulason (Tillen, ht), Hutchinson (Mesinho, 84), Tabb; Owusu (Fitzgerald, 73) Rankin. Subs not used: Masters, Gayle. Attendance: 912.

Brentford concluded their pre-season campaign at the Beveree Stadium on Monday when Tom Crossland's late goal gave the Beavers a 1-0 victory.

The Bees fielded a young team, consisting mainly of academy players but including Gayle at centre-back, and the welcome return of Nelson in goal.

Ryan Peters was joined by Charlie Ide in attack, and Mauritian trialist Kiki started on the left wing.

Brentford: Nelson (Masters, ht); Steele, Gayle, Blissett, Charles; Moleski, Osborne, Watts, Kiki; Ide, Peters. Subs not used: Dimitrov, Andrews, Howells, Paye, Mabeley.

Brentford's second League Two match is away to Chesterfield next Wednesday (7.30pm).

l Korean striker San Lee has left Brentford to sign for Sheffield United.

Brentford's fixtures August: 6 Scunthorpe (h), 10 Chesterfield (a), 15 Port Vale (a), 20 Tranmere (h), 23 Cheltenham (a), 27 Barnsley (a), 29 Gillingham (h).

September: 3 Nottingham Forest (a), 10 MK Dons (h), 17 Huddersfield (a), 24 Bristol City (h), 27 Walsall (a).

October: 1 Rotherham (h), 9 Oldham (a), 15 Swindon Town (h), 22 Blackpool (a), 29 Bournemouth (h).

November: 12 Hartlepool (a), 19 Oldham (h), 26 Scunthorpe (a).

December: 6 Yeovil Town (h), 10 Chesterfield (h), 17 Tranmere (a), 26 Swansea City (h), 28 Doncaster (a), 31 Colchester (h).

January: 2 Bradford (a), 7 Nottingham Forest (h), 14 Southend (a), 21 Huddersfield (h), 28 MK Dons (a).

February: 4 Walsall (h), 11 Bristol (a), 14 Southend (h), 18 Yeovil Town (a), 25 Port Vale (h).

March: 4 Gillingham (a), 11 Barnsley (h), 17 Swansea City (a), 25 Doncaster (h).

April: 1 Colchester (a), 8 Bradford City (h), 15 Rotherham (a), 17 Blackpool (h), 22 Swindon Town (a), 29 Hartlepool (h).

May: 6 Bournemouth (a).