Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Dale Stephens is urging his team-mates to show a fighting response in Saturday’s Boxing Day clash with Brentford at Griffin Park.
The midfielder admits last week was a gruelling one for the squad, but says the players will be ready to deal with the threat posed by Dean Smith’s side.
He said, “We’ve come off the back of an especially tough time, playing Derby, QPR and Middlesbrough in the same week. Maybe it took its toll, but I don’t think it changes anything; we’ve lost one game and one game doesn’t make or break a season.
“We’ve got to look at it as a bit of a blessing. We’ve had everything our own way up until this point, but it’s a challenge and one that we’ve all got to look forward to.
“It’s going to be difficult; Brentford are going well and it’s a difficult place to go to, but we’re looking for a reaction off the back of Saturday. Everyone is looking forward to it.”
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The Boxing Day fixture is seen as one of the stand-out games of the season and Stephens stressed the importance of picking up victories during the festive period, with home games to come against Ipswich and Wolves.
“We try to approach it like any other week. Obviously the Christmas period is tough and with the fixtures we’ve had this month, it’s been extra tough, but it’s something we’re looking forward to, as we look to push on until the end of the season.
“It’s also an opportunity to get good points on the table. If you get a good run of results in a short period of time, you can really kick on in the table as well.”
The 26-year-old praised Chris Hughton for the influence he's having on his career and is confident that exciting times lie ahead under the Albion manager.
“He’s been very good. When he came in at the start of the year, he had the job of keeping us in the division and he achieved that.
“We’ve definitely pushed on in the league this year and we’re much more of a set outfit and we’ve got good times coming.
"He takes a lot of the coaching sessions and gets the best out of you. That’s definitely one of his best qualities.”
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