Hughton braced for toughest test yet

Albion boss Chris Hughton Picture: Paul Hazlewood

Albion boss Chris Hughton Picture: Paul Hazlewood

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Brighton boss Chris Hughton admits Sunday’s match away to Burnley will be the toughest test yet for his side.

The Seagulls are second in the Championship, two points ahead of Burnley, who have lost just once in their last 13 league games.

Albion go into the game unbeaten in their 16 league matches and Hughton said: “I think it’s the toughest test yet and this league is full of really tough games. We haven’t had a comfortable game yet.

“These are a side of real quality and if I look at what they have, the team isn’t very much different to the team that played in the Premier League for them.

“They’re a very well organised side and they’re certainly able to score goals and Andre Gray is in very good form at the moment, so I think it’s our biggest test and the fact it’s away from home as well.

“It’s a difficult place to go but a real good challenge. We’ve certainly been better on the road this season than what we were last season in my time and before my time, so we’d like to think we’re in better shape than what we’ve been.

“But it’s a very tough place to go and they’re a team full of quality and experience.”

Sam Baldock has joined Gaetan Bong on the injury sidelines and Hughton said: “It’s a blow because Sam’s one who has been involved right the way through this campaign, he’s only missed one game. That’s the nature of the game and what you have to do is be able to adjust.

“It was exactly the same when we lost Gaetan. It’s an opportunity for somebody else and it’s either an opportunity for someone who plays in that position or adjusting a little bit.

“Fortunately for us, we have some flexibility in the players that we have.”

With Gordon Greer back available and Connor Goldson impressing in training since joining the club, Hughton said: “At this minute, we’ve got competition with four good central defenders. As a manager’s job, it might give you a few headaches but that’s the sort of competition that you want.”

Burnley midfielder Joey Barton said earlier this month that he felt his side had kind of gone under the radar. However, Hughton feels the Turf Moor outfit will be right up at the top come the end of the season and said: “He’s probably right in what he said and for maybe the same reason, there’s a certain amount of that with what we’ve done here.

“From our perspective, we maybe weren’t fancied to be where we are. If Joey thinks that way, maybe it’s because they are a very efficient team and go about their business in a correct way. What they have is absolutely a very good team ethic, no sort of thrills and graces about them.

“But from our point of view we’ve always been very conscious that, at the start of the season when I thought about the teams that were going to right up there, Burnley were absolutely going to be one of them.”

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