Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton knows that the defensive partnership of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy will be pivotal to the side’s chances of getting a good result against Manchester City this afternoon at Wembley Stadium.
The Seagulls contest an Emirates FA Cup semi-final when they face Pep Guardiola’s men today in the capital, and the Albion boss spoke about how his team would need Dunk and Duffy to be a presence at both ends of the field.
He said, “We know that they’ll be vital for us – that’s probably been one of our strengths this season in attacking areas in terms of how threatening we’ve been from set-plays.
“Shane’s [Duffy] had a good goalscoring record – at the other end we know they’ll have to play well. The partnership have had games they’ve had to work hard in before, and we’ve needed them to keep us in matches.
“They’ll be very important – this Manchester City side are right up there in terms of being one of the best sides I’ve managed against.
“They can open you up in so many different ways, their ammunition has been added to by the goalkeeper Ederson who can spray passes all over the field to get them onto the attack very quickly.”
Hughton has overseen the club’s rise to the top flight and has now guided the team to the last four of the historic competition for the first time in 36 years - he spoke of his pride and delight for the current group of players.
“It would mean a lot for me to take this team to the final – as a manager and a coach I realise and understand how hard it is to get to this stage of the competition,” he continued.
“As a manager it would be the first time I’ve done it and the first chance to get to the final – it means a lot.
“Mostly though it’s about the club and about the players – there are so many good players that would have never got to this stage before. I’m really pleased and delighted for the team to get this far and I hope they can do us all proud.”
Following this afternoon’s game, the Seagulls face Premier League clashes on home soil against AFC Bournemouth and Cardiff City in the space of four days from next Saturday.
The manager spoke about how his team’s performance this afternoon can have a positive impact on the rest of the league matches between now and the end of the campaign.
“It’s important because we still want to stay in the division and it can help us push towards that – we’re realistic about the task on Saturday, firstly for me it’s therefore about a performance.
“If it’s a performance we can be proud of then it gives us a chance, the cup games are one off matches and as our supporters showed on Wednesday we understand the levels we are up against.
“We understand the odds, and whatever the outcome of Saturday is, I’m confident that come Monday morning we’ll be refocused on a very tough home game against AFC Bournemouth."