Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton believes that being able to welcome Alireza Jahanbakhsh into the fold over the next few weeks will be like having a new signing at his disposal.
The Iranian midfielder has spent the last month plying his trade for his country at the 2019 Asian Cup, but has now returned to the south coast ahead of this afternoon’s game with Watford at the Amex Stadium, with Hughton looking forward to having the summer arrival back in his plans.
He said, “It will feel almost like having a new signing when he’s back because I believe we are yet to see the best of him during his time at the club so far.
“I think the circumstances mean it’s been stop start, he came in late and had to adjust to the group and the pre-season schedule, which was already underway.
“He got injured at a time where he was making progress and starting to play regularly, he needed a longer period there, so for his development, the Asian Cup halted that.
“But he’s back now and it’s about integrating back into the group and starting that process again, that’s what we’re hoping for between now and the end of the campaign.”
Tuesday evening saw the side fall to defeat against Fulham at Craven Cottage, having held a two-goal advantage at the interval – the manger reflected on the game in the capital honestly.
“In this division, occasions like Tuesday can happen where you come under pressure and concede goals because of the quality of the sides in the league.
“It hasn’t often happened to us so far this season – we played against some of the top six teams away and managed to keep it tighter.
“You can never say it won’t happen, but when you have a bad day it’s about an opponent putting away their chances – Fulham may have had the same impact in the second half on Tuesday evening but only scored one or two goals.
“Credit to our players though because we’ve guarded against that more during this campaign and the game was very unlike us.”
This afternoon’s game against the Hornets on the south coast is the first of two league matches on home soil in as many weekends, and Hughton acknowledged the significance of the pair of contests.
“Our home record is one that we’re proud of since we’ve been in the division.
“It’s something that kept us in the league last year, and I feel like it will be important if we are to do so again this season.
“That’s the case for a number of teams and it will need to continue to be good for us.”