At his pre-match press conference, Chris Hughton reviewed the current state of his squad and the need to pick up more points away from home, plus the threat posed by Steve McLaren’s Derby side.
Injury Situation: “We’re okay. Craig [Mackail-Smith] took a knock on Saturday, so we’re still assessing him but he’s certainly not bad and we’ll assess him again.
“He just felt his hamstring very slightly, but the good thing is it’s certainly not a pull, it’s just stiff.
“It was probably a consequence of playing consecutive games after being out for a while, but in effect it’s not an injury. It’s stiffness, but we’ve got to make sure he’s right and ready to go.”
“Apart from that there are no fresh concerns other than those we know who are out, like Solly [March].”
Gaining more points away from home: “Most teams would score more goals at home than they would do away, but it is a concern and the only way you’re going to win games away from home is of course by scoring goals and we’ve certainly done a lot of work on the training pitch.
“It can be about confidence, certainly about making sure we get into the right areas and most teams are going to get into better areas at home than they will do away. We’re probably lacking that little bit of clinical quality that you perhaps need away from home. At home you tend to force a bit of luck generally, but when you’re playing away, you have to be more clinical because you usually get fewer chances.
“Our position in the league is what puts pressure on results and of course if you’re not getting results or wins away, then you’ve got to be getting them at home. The only way you can climb in the league is by winning your games.”
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Derby’s progress this season: “Derby must be doing a lot of things right, because it is tougher for them after last season as expectations get higher.
“The teams that played against them last season know them a little bit better now, so to sustain that is tough, but they’ve recruited well.
Chris Martin, although he has been out at the moment, continues to score goals for them. They have certainly recruited well in the window, bringing in [Thomas] Ince, who has rewarded them with goals - as has Darren Bent.
“They play a particular way and haven’t changed their beliefs, but their achievements this season have been excellent on the back of last season.”
Steve McClaren: “He is firstly a top coach and I remember him back in the days of being an assistant manager at Derby, taking coaching sessions and putting on presentations for the British coaches.
“He was very impressive then and it was never a surprise that he was going to be a top coach. The next natural stage for him of course was management. He’s had a couple of lows in his time, but he is very much a top manager and you don’t become an England manager by coincidence.”