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Stephens: A Huge Opportunity

By Alex Stedman • 13 March 2019

Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Dale Stephens recognises what’s at stake as the Seagulls travel to face Millwall in the last eight of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday.

Chris Hughton’s men face Neil Harris’s side looking to progress to the last four of the competition and Wembley Stadium in the process, and Stephens looked ahead buoyantly to the contest in south London.

He said, “The boys who have played in my position in the cup have done really well so far, and the manager has made changes throughout the competition.

“It’s a massive opportunity – you only have to look at the teams that have already gone out and what’s happened so far in the cup to know that everyone left has a chance now.

“It’s a welcome situation and we’ll be looking to reach the last four. I’ve played there before and it’s always like a derby in many ways, but it’s a challenge we’re all looking forward to.”

The 29-year-old produced a superb pass to allow Anthony Knockaert to seal a memorable 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon, and he spoke his role within the side, as well as reflecting on his helping hand to allow the Frenchman to notch the winning goal.

“Keeping the ball is part of my job within the team, it was needed more today [Saturday] than any other occasion – when the game is frantic in the way it was it’s important to have a calm head.

“I’m that player for the side that can keep possession and build from there – if we’d done that more today we could have made the game more comfortable.

“It’s my assist today [Saturday] with a forward ball, but Anthony does the rest by himself, and it’s an unbelievable finish.

“It’s what he’s capable of and he’s shown throughout his time at this club that he’s a matchwinner and he showed it once more with that."

Stephens spoke about Sunday's game being another chance for the manager to rotate his squad again, and explained it will be beneficial not having another game for almost two weeks after the cup clash.

“We’ve got no league game the following weekend, which means we can treat it as a one-off game.

“But I also feel we would have treated it in that way regardless of whether or not we’d won our last two league matches.

“It’s a chance for those that have played in the competition to go and show what they can do again and it’s a game we’ll be looking to win.”

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