Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton has urged his side to keep calm and handle the occasion this afternoon against Millwall at The Den.
The Seagulls travel to south London for their Emirates FA Cup quarter-final knowing that a place in the final four awaits the winner, and the boss has called on his players to manage the contest.
He said, “It will be a big atmosphere, and we’ll need calm and cool heads out on the field.
“We did that well last weekend - not because of the opposition, but because it’s a cup tie away from home where you expect the crowd to be very vocal.
“In that sort of environment and game, particularly at the start, you need composure and players who will make good decisions and not make rash challenges - in that central midfield area, we’ll need that bit of composure.”
Three players remain from the side that drew 0-0 with the Lions back in March 2015, the first time Hughton took an Albion side to The Den – Bruno, Beram Kayal and Dale Stephens, and the manager reserved praise for the latter ahead of the game this afternoon.
“When I first arrived at the club Dale was injured – he probably didn’t play for me until well into March.
“In that period of time here I was told about his abilities and how valuable he was to the side, so I was really looking forward to him coming back into the team.
“That time between then and the end of the campaign ended up being a really good introductory period and it gave me time to assess the type of player he was, and I took an instant likening to him.”
The former Charlton Athletic man spent time on loan at Droylsden and Hyde United in non-league during his early days at Bury, in the Conference North and the Conference Premier respectively.
Hughton paid tribute to that rise through the divisions and highlighted Stephens’s ability to continue to rise to the challenges of adapting to life at a higher level of the game.
“Those are the characteristics I like in him as a player, Dale’s someone who’s very competitive.
“These days you might not have too many really vocal players, but he’s always one that goes about his business in the correct way.
“He covers good distances and I always felt he was a confident player – when you work with someone, you start to feel those things.
“He can affect a game and the team, I never had any doubts about his ability, he’s got a strong personality and believes in his own ability – all the things that allow a player make progress.”