At his pre-match press conference, Chris Hughton spoke about the welcome distraction of the Emirates FA Cup, gave a fitness update on Jurgen Locadia, assessed the threat posed by Middlesbrough, and looked ahead to the next run of league games after Albion’s trip to Teeside.
FA CUP DISTRACTION:
“In some ways it is a welcome break from the rigours of this division, and what comes with that is the excitement of playing in a cup competition.
“We had a difficult game against Crystal Palace in the last round and we were delighted to get through that one without a replay. It’s one that we are very much looking forward to.
“We know even from our last experience in this competition after beating Crystal Palace, there’s a better feel for the next few days going into the next league game.
“Our focus is on this game, which will be very difficult and we have to put as much into it as we can.”
“We’re expecting him to be fit in a couple of weeks, but with regard to him settling in, he’s done that very well.
“The work he has done with our medical team has been very good. He came here with an injury, which we are aware of and for as quickly as we want to bring him back, we’ve got to make sure that he’s right.
“He’s looked very good outside [in training] and I’m very much looking forward to getting him into the squad."
THREAT FROM MIDDLESBROUGH
“They’ve had some ups and downs this season with regard to their form, but they are a team that we very much expect to have a good run through to the end of the season.
“Tony [Pulis] is a manager I know very well and it’s never an easy game against one of his teams. We are away from home against a side that are on the back of a very good win last time out against Queens Park Rangers, so we expect a very difficult game.
“When any manager goes to a new team, it’s always going to take time. If I look at their line-ups in the last few games, they have good options and a very good squad. There has been some good rotation of that squad too.
“Tony organises a team well, and he plays to their strengths. I think they’ll have a strong end to the season and the teams with the stronger squads in the Championship start to do well then.”
RUN OF LEAGUE GAMES AGAINST BOTTOM-HALF SIDES
“These are the games where you have more of a chance of getting a result than the others. We are conscious of that, but it seems that the every next game is the most important one.
“Of course we would like to be three or four points better off than where we are now, but if any side gets a few good results than they can be at the top of that group. Watford had such a good start to the season and as with everybody else they’ve had difficult periods, and at one stage it looked like they were going to break away.
“The comforting thing is that it is in our hands and there are a lot of other good teams sitting close together in the table."