Brighton & Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton has challenged his players to use a ‘great opportunity’ to show him what they can do in today’s FA Cup third round tie against Brentford at Griffin Park.
The new Albion manager says first impressions have been good – based on what he has seen in training – and in line with what he expected before accepting the job.
He said, “I knew the type of players that were here: some very good technical players. We have a good group of lads, that want to work hard and want to do well.
“I think there is a general belief from them that this league is very tough and the margins between the top and bottom are not so big.
“There is a genuine belief that some of the performances have warranted more, but of course the league table never lies. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s what I expected.
“At this stage it’s up to them to strike a balance from what I want to see from them, but also what they can show me, because a new manager wants to see competition.
“I want to see players fighting for positions, and of course it’s an opportunity for me to try and push the side to a result, but it’s a great opportunity for these players to show me what they can do.”
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Hughton confirmed he will lean on Nathan Jones as he selects his first Albion team, but also admitted, due to limited numbers, there is little in the way of selection options.
“It would be silly of me not to get advice from Nathan because he’s been with the team and knows the players.
“They have prepared for this game; I have done some work on Brentford over the past couple of days and I can use the knowledge of having seen them three or four times this season.
“With regards to some of the in-depth analysis, that’s something which the club and Nathan have already done, so it’s got to be a balance.
“I know the opposition having seen them, but they certainly would’ve watched more here on the video analysis. So it’s about getting that right balance, but certainly the correct thing for me to do would be to lean on the knowledge already here.
“At this moment what we don’t have is the options we’d like to have. We have an injury list which is in line with most clubs at this stage of the season, so at that moment we do need to bring bodies in.”
Meanwhile Hughton says strikers Craig Mackail-Smith and Chris O’Grady – recently recalled early from the respective loan spells with Peterborough and Sheffield United – are part of his initial plans as he evaluates his entire squad.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to see them. Craig of course played in the last game and Chris is back and had an involvement as well.
“It’s an opportunity for them to show me what they can do, along with those who have been playing; for them it’s about maintaining a place in the side. For those that have not been playing so regularly, it’s an opportunity to show me what they can do.
“My first impressions are that they are a good group of lads, but it’s also about making sure that they’re getting results on a regular basis.
“Midfield and attack are areas we are looking at, because these are the two areas where we’ve lost players. Darren Bent was a big player and he’s gone back. So has Gary Gardner.
“Gary was part of quite a young midfield so they’re areas we’re looking at, but what’s important is that we make the right decisions on players. We can’t bring them in for the sake of it. They have to be the right players for this team and football club."