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HUGHTON URGES PLAYERS TO MAINTAIN FOCUS

6 August 2016

Albion's manager is expecting his players to carry on their momentum from last season.


Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton says his team must maintain the focus they had last season, heading into today's season opener at Derby County.

The Albion boss is well aware of the Championship’s newest arrivals, but insists his team are well equipped for the new season.

He said, "We have to be a club that wants to challenge again. Even with the three that have come down, I don't think the message will be any different from what it was last season.

"It's a strong division. I don't think we will be coming up against anything too different from last season.

"There won't be any easy games. Of the three that came down, Norwich have experienced the division most recently and in some ways I suppose they are better prepared mentally.

"Newcastle and Aston Villa are two clubs that haven't been in this division for a while, although some of the players Newcastle have brought in mean they should cope very well with this division."

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New signing Oliver Norwood joins the squad, boosting Albion’s central midfield options, and Hughton is pleased to add strength in depth to that position within the team.

“Steve Sidwell was one we were able to do very early and was with us last season, so we know him well. Oliver is a player we know very well and he'll give us good competition in central midfield.

"We wanted four players in centre midfield and what we have at the moment is Dale Stephens, Beram Kayal Steve Sidwell and Oliver Norwood.

"Outside of that, Richie Towell can play in two or three positions and we are still having a very good look at him, although he's injured at the moment.

"Competition puts good pressure on players and allows me to make changes. You are going to get injuries and you need that type of squad to be able to cope with them.

The Seagulls boss anticipates a tough test in this afternoon's game the iPro Stadium and expects Saturday’s opponents to challenge for promotion once again.

"We all accept there are a group of teams that should be up there come the end of the season and Derby are one of them for lots of reasons.

"It's where they've been for the last three or four seasons and they have a new manager now, so I very much expect them to be at the top end of the table. It's a very difficult game to start with."

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