Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton has called for composure from his players when they host Cardiff City tonight at the Amex Stadium.
The Seagulls go into this evening’s contest with the Bluebirds five points ahead of their 18th-placed opponents, and the boss wants his team to approach the game calmly in what on what could be a vital evening in the race for Premier League survival.
He said, “We will have to keep our heads, it will be a very competitive game.
“All of our matches against Cardiff in recent seasons always have been and it’s important that we keep our composure and stick to a game plan, as well as not allowing ourselves to get frustrated.
“We lost on Saturday and the dynamic is we were well beaten as opposed to a narrow loss, sometimes the difference involved in losing by bigger margins can put more emphasis on what the players need to do – we need a big reaction and have no choice but to be a lot better.
“There was a lot wrong and the players will have to make amends for it, we’re at home – the weekend was disappointing, but the crowd have been fantastic for us and I’m sure they will be again on Tuesday."
The manager also discussed the dynamics of the division ahead of the match with Neil Warnock’s men, and focused on the teams surrounding Albion in the table in particular.
“At this moment if we win tonight then that gap between ourselves and the bottom three becomes eight points,” he continued.
“We very much see the season as one where we’re still learning and playing against real quality teams – there are more experienced teams and bigger clubs around us that have spent much more money.
“We never thought it would be anything but a very competitive division - at this moment you have one club who’ve gone down, after spending big money in the summer, but found it very hard.”
Aside from the suspended Anthony Knockaert, the manager will have a full squad to choose from tonight, and he spoke of the competition for places in the side, as well as the importance of making the most of the remaining Premier League matches left on home soil.
“With competition in the squad nobody can feel hard done by to miss out on Tuesday, but it’s about finding the right balance.
“We’re on the back of a poor performance from the whole team, it’s not the first time it has happened, and it won’t be the last, but I’ve got to get the right balance between making changes and picking the side that I think gives us the best chance of winning the next game.
“We’ve now got three games left at home and as with every game, they’re an opportunity to win and get maximum points - we know that generally you tend to stand a better chance of doing that at home, so they will be vitally important matches – the fans have been great and it’s important we get our crowd behind us.”