De Zerbi: Baleba and Moder can step up

Head coach says Billy Gilmour's suspension has created opportunity for another two of his midfielders.

By Bruce Talbot • 26 February 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
Carlos Baleba has a big future in the Premier League, according to Roberto De Zerbi.

Roberto De Zerbi admits Albion will miss a ‘unique’ player when Billy Gilmour serves his three-match suspension but he believes Carlos Baleba or Jakub Moder can step up.

The Scot will be absent for our FA Cup tie against Wolves and the Premier League matches with Fulham and Nottingham Forest after he was sent off in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Everton.

“Billy is a unique player for us so this is the moment for either Baleba or Moder," said De Zerbi. "I am happy because they need to play and my expectations of them are big and they have to show they are good enough to stay in the first XI.

“We have only one playmaker in our squad who is Billy, but I think Baleba has that quality but he’s very young. He is new in Brighton and didn’t play many games since arriving last summer, but for sure he can become one of the best Premier League players in the future.

By Paul Hazlewood
Jakub Moder could get an opportunity to impress when Albion face Wolves in the FA Cup on Wednesday.

“Jakub is closer to Pascal Gross and Carlos could be the replacement for Billy - but I haven’t decided yet the first XI for the [Wolves] game.”

De Zerbi confirmed that Danny Welbeck and Evan Ferguson weren't injured when they came off against Everton but he says the absence of key players like Joao Pedro and Kaoru Mitoma is frustrating as they chase success in three competitions. 

“I would like all my players to be available to play because sometimes the first XI has been the work of the medical staff, I couldn’t decide [it] a lot of times," he added. "We are in the crucial part of the season and I would like to play with Mitoma, Joao Pedro – because other teams play with more players, more or less.”