Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton admitted there’s a psychological element involved with staying outside of the Premier League relegation zone, but insists it only carries real significance come the end of the season.
The Seagulls sit 13th in the Premier League table ahead of today’s game against Watford at the Amex Stadium, just three points above the drop zone, and Hughton commented on the psychology involved.
He said, “It’s not the be-all-and-end-all [staying outside the bottom three], because it’s all about where you finish and the run you can have at the end of the season.
“But I do think there is a psychological advantage of not being in that bottom three, and of course for any team that is in the bottom three, it then becomes a bigger focus and challenge to get out.
“That’s always been the case and it’s a bit like the top four - you’re better in it than out of it. But it’s more perilous at the bottom end of the table.”
Shane Duffy is unavailable to play against the Hornets this afternoon, after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend, and Hughton commented on the defender’s busy start to the campaign.
“Shane has been excellent for us, but he’s had four international breaks, playing in all four, and he’s also played in every game here.
“He wants to play every game, and we would also like him to, because he’s in good form, but these things happen and you’ve got to benefit from the break.
“At the moment, it’s almost as difficult to pick the subs as it is to pick the team, and that’s because we’ve got a lot of bodies fit and available, and that’s the way you would want it.”
Hughton’s team take on Chelsea, Newcastle United and Bournemouth in the nine days that follow Watford’s visit to the south coast, and the Albion boss accepted his team’s busy schedule over the Christmas period.
“For those that don’t benefit from a [less busy] period, we’re always going to look at other teams with a more comfortable ride.
“We’re new to this division and we’re a club that is used to playing a lot of games over the last couple of seasons.
“The ones that would have the biggest reason to moan about fixtures would be the bigger clubs that play in Europe, so there’s no complaints from us.”
Albion fans can watch the manager's full look ahead to this afternoon's game with Watford with a 'Free Pass' on Seagulls TV by clicking here.