Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton is looking forward to crossing paths with a familiar face in Neil Warnock at the Cardiff City Stadium this afternoon.
The Seagulls boss takes his side to Wales in 12th position in the Premier League after three wins from three in October, and Hughton was keen to repay the praise of this afternoon’s opposite number ahead of the contest.
He said, “It’s always nice to hear people say good things about you, but it’s also very difficult in this profession to be nice all the time because you always have to make tough decisions that you hope can lead to success.
“For us, success is about keeping the team in the Premier League and building from there, so it’s impossible to do all of those things and be nice all the time – what you try to do is try to approach the game within your personality.
“What I do look forward to is seeing Neil – he’s somebody I know very well, and we’ve crossed paths on many occasions both on and off the pitch.
“He’s a manager who I have great respect for, and he has a wonderful track record – he’s brought a team into this division and continues to do a very good job there – it makes Saturday very tough for that reason.”
Thursday also saw Lewis Dunk get given his second England call-up in as many months ahead of next week’s games against USA and Croatia respectively, and the Albion manager spoke glowingly of the defender’s capabilities and his progression during his own time on the south coast so far.
“He’s a gifted footballer and in this era you have to be just that as central defender – in training games and possession drills he keeps the ball very well and very comfortably.
“He also has a few old-fashioned great traits – he’s very brave and if there’s a chance to throw himself in the way of a ball then he’s willing and capable of doing that.
“He’s of a good size and that makes him good in the air, but most of all it’s been his progress that’s impressed me. He’s always improved throughout my time here and for the whole of his career and he’s matured on the field too.”
The side will be without summer signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh this afternoon after the midfielder limped out of the final few minutes of last weekend’s game against Everton at Goodison Park.
The boss insisted that the winger still needs time to adapt to the English game having joined from AZ Alkmaar a few months ago, and believes his absence today creates an opening for someone else in a competitive squad.
“You can probably use the example of Jose [Izquierdo] last season, because he took a while to adapt last year.
“We knew we’d need some adjustment time because he’s come from a club where he played a different type of role in a 4-3-3.
“The Premier League is a more demanding league and the requirements of players in this division are a lot different. He also had more of license at his previous side – but if we didn’t think he was a player that could make that change then we wouldn’t have signed him.
“He’s got a good habit of scoring goals and providing assists, and that’s clearly another reason why we brought him in – it’s a blow for us to be without him today, but it gives an opportunity for someone else in the side.”