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HUGHTON URGES TEAM TO EMBRACE GREAT CHALLENGE

25 February 2017

The Albion boss targets a strong finish to the season.


Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton wants his players to embrace the "great challenge" in front of them for the remainder of the season, and to maintain their focus in the race for promotion.
 
The Seagulls take on Reading and Newcastle United in back-to-back games at the Amex, with both teams pushing towards the top end of the Sky Bet Championship table, and Hughton insists his players must relish the prospect of facing their promotion rivals.
 
He said, “We’ve got so many good sides that are pushing at this end of the table, and that means you can’t afford to take your eye of the game or think you’re better than what you are.
 
“You can lose any game, just like you can win any game. That’s the competition that we’re in, but that’s also the challenge.
 
“We had a wonderful challenge last season that we didn’t quite make, and the challenge this season is every bit as great.
 
“What the game against Reading does do, it gives us a fixture against a team that are very close to us in the division. Of course it adds more meaning to the game, that goes without saying.
 
“But when that game finishes, we’re onto another game which is equally important, and then the next one after that. But in the nature of where we are at the moment, it’s a big game.”

Albion will be looking to seal their 17th clean sheet of the season against the Royals, and Hughton praised centre-half Shane Duffy for his contribution at the back since his move from Blackburn Rovers in August.

“We’ve been delighted with his progress and he’s formed a very good partnership with Lewis Dunk. He’s also played a lot of games and is a durable character.
 
“He’s one that takes a few whacks, he’s a wholehearted player and will always be competitive.
 
“He’s been very reliable for us in regard to the amount of games that he’s played and the contribution that he’s given us. I’ve been really delighted with what Shane’s given us since day one.”
 
Reading manager Jaap Stam has guided the club into the play-off positions after taking charge in the summer, and Hughton believes the Royals are getting the rewards for remaining patient with the Dutchman’s footballing philosophy.
 
“It can be very difficult for a team when you’re perhaps not going so well and chopping and changing the way that you play, but it’s about having a strong belief in your style of football.
 
“You have to persevere through that one and of course there are always going to be difficult periods. But Reading have certainly done that and come through it.
 
“They absolutely deserve to be where they are in the division so far this season.”

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