Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton has highlighted the progressive nature of his squad and the competition for places within the side.
The likes of Bernardo, Yves Bissouma and Florin Andone have all featured for the Seagulls in recent weeks, and the boss praised the calibre of players at his disposal ahead of tonight’s game with Crystal Palace at the Amex Stadium.
He said, “I think it’s an indication that the squad is improving but you see it with lots of teams – you’ll bring players in during a window and you bring them in because of the ability they’ve got.
“But it can take time for players to adjust and there’s always an element of you that will recognise you’ll have certain players in your squad who have been there a while and know what you’re looking for.
“It’s about trying to balance those two things – and what we’re seeing ourselves now is players who we brought in during the summer who are beginning to get the right moments in the team – we’re at a stage now where the level of competition is very good, and it gives me a lot of challenging decisions.”
Albion earned three vital points over the weekend against Huddersfield Town thanks to goals from Shane Duffy and Florin Andone, and the manager pointed to the significance of a second away win of the campaign.
“It’s another challenge completed but whenever I see those sorts of statistics, which could be perceived to be slightly negative, I always recognise where we are – and I tend to ignore them.
“Hopefully if we’re still in this division in four or five years’ time then maybe the objectives and records will have changed slightly.
“At the moment we’re still striving for consistency and amongst that there will be negatives and things we don’t do well enough, but there have been far more positives than negatives.”
Tonight’s game against Roy Hodgson’s men will see the Eagles visit the south coast in what is always an eagerly-awaited fixture, and Hughton acknowledged the game’s importance to the supporters.
“It’s something I’ve always been aware of because my brother Henry played for Crystal Palace and I was brought up in London, and I’ve played against them on many occasions.
“Probably in the last few years I’ve picked up the exact history, but the rivalry was always something I knew about.
“We have some new faces in the side, but their awareness isn’t something we’ve spoken about – some were here last year, but we haven’t had a big build-up to this game because it’s such a quick turnaround after Saturday – if it was at a weekend as normal then perhaps things would be a little bit different.
“We’re almost still coming down from Saturday, as they will be, and I expect a close game. These matches can be tense affairs and I just hope that we can show enough quality to go on and win it.”