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BHAFC: What will new signing Izzy Brown bring to Brighton’s attacking threat?

The 20-year old joins on a season-long loan from Chelsea. 

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Izzy Brown pictured with an Albion shirt. (Image Credit: brightonandhovealbion.com)

Brighton and Hove Albion completed the signing of young Chelsea forward Izzy Brown on a season-long loan this afternoon.

The 20-year old impressed whilst on loan at both Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town last season.

Brown has no doubt proved his worth in the Championship, and now has the chance to shine in the Premier League with the Seagulls.

But what exactly does the youngster bring to Chris Hughton’s team?

Technically, Brown is very good with the ball at his feet. He enjoys to dribble past players and can be very difficult to stop once he is in full flow.

He’s the dynamic player some Brighton fans have been crying out for. He always wants to go forward with the ball- similarly to Anthony Knockaert.

The two of them could form a formidable partnership once the Frenchman recovers from the ankle injury he sustained in the win over Fortuna Düsseldorf earlier this month.

As well as his dribbling ability, Brown also has a habit of scoring big goals. His five for Huddersfield last season proved crucial as they won promotion to the top flight. Hopefully he will get a few more this campaign, as Brighton look to avoid relegation in their first season back in England’s top division since 1983.

With an ever-ageing squad, Brown brings some young, youthful energy which the front line so desperately needs.

With Sam Baldock out injured, Tomer Hemed (30) and Glenn Murray (33) are the only fit out-and-out strikers currently at the Amex. Both are quite similar players- they are physical and very good in the air.

Brown will bring some much needed pace and technical ability that will bring a different attacking threat. Defenders will not have such an easy time with the England Under-21 international on the pitch.

The 20-year old is set to feature in the Seagulls’ third pre-season match of the summer against Southend United tonight.

Brown joins Pascal groß, Mat Ryan and Markus Suttner through the Amex doors this summer, but there could still be more business to be done before the window slams shut.

 

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Brighton and Hove Albion linked with left-backs from Liverpool, Schalke and Ingolstadt.

The Seagulls need to fill the position following Sebastian Pocognoli’s decision to return to Standard Liege. 

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Joe Gomez in action for Liverpool. (Image Credit: COLIN LANE/IRISH MIRROR via. http://www.irishmirror.ie/sport/soccer/soccer-news/joe-gomez-unfazed-prospect-making-6190341

Brighton and Hove Albion are looking to further strengthen their squad ahead of the new Premier League season, which begins in just 45 days.

Following the arrivals of midfielder Pascal Groß and goalkeeper Mat Ryan, the focus now switches to securing a left-back that’ll bolster Chris Hughton’s defence.

Gaëtan Bong is the only natural left-back currently in the squad. The Cameroonian has played well during his time on the south coast, but it’s unlikely he can play all 38 Premier League games and subsequent cup matches. It will be a gruelling campaign, and a backup is most definitely needed.

Liam Rosenior has played at left-back previously during his time at the Albion, but he is more likely to cover club captain Bruno at right-back this year. With Chris Hughton only allowed to register 25 players for the upcoming season, one would expect him to select four distinguished full-backs.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only Brighton fan who wanted Sebastian Pocognoli to stay after his loan spell last season. The Belgian brought a sense of calm and composure to the defence and will remembered for scoring a wonderful free-kick at Loftus Road against Queens Park Rangers- a goal that secured a vital three points in the Seagull’s promotion push.

Pocognoli insists Albion hadn’t offered any contract to him, and that he felt he couldn’t wait any longer for a deal to be put on the table. I therefore wish Poco all the best with Standard Liege.

Speculation has been floating around the media, with three defenders possibly being targeted by the Albion. But will they bring with them the quality that is needed to stay in the Premier League?

Liverpool’s Joe Gomez has been a name that has been whispered around since the start of the summer, with the 20-year-old looking to restart his career following a cruciate injury.

The youngster is good with both feet, and will push forward when his team are on the attack.

Gomez made just three appearances in the FA Cup last season following his long lay-off with injury, but did show early potential when he first broke into the Liverpool side two years ago.

Celtic have also been interested in acquiring his services, but according to The Mirror, the Seagulls have beaten them to his signature.  

There has been a lot more activity over in Germany, with Austrian international Markus Suttner unhappy that Ingolstadt won’t allow him to leave the club.

Brighton made an offer of around £2m for the defender which was rejected, and according to the player’s agent, the 30-year-old wants his ‘dream move to the Premier League’.

Suttner made 38 appearances for Ingolstadt last season, and made an average of three interceptions per match. His key strengths are his passing and ability to run up and down the left channel. He has also represented Austria 18 times.

The final player who hasn’t had as much attention is Schalke’s Dennis Aogo.

The German can play left back and defensive midfield, and is also out of contract at the end of the month.

Aogo is renowned in Germany for his passing ability, but his defending has raised eyebrows. The 30-year old featured predominantly for Schalke in the Europa League last season, and struggled to break into the side for their league matches.

Of the three, I think Joe Gomez would be the pick of the bunch. The Liverpool youngster has some Premier League experience and will provide the defence with the necessary pace needed to keep up with some of the quickest and trickiest wingers in the world.

Whoever comes in needs to be on it from the first minute on opening weekend, when Manchester City come to town.

 

 

 

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BHAFC: Mathew Ryan signs as Albion begin to show they mean business in the transfer window.

The Australian goalkeeper has put pen to paper on a five-year deal. 

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Ryan was on loan at Genk last season. (Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES via. http://theworldgame.sbs.com.au/article/2017/03/17/ryan-helps-genk-advance-uel-quarter-finals

Brighton and Hove Albion have confirmed the signing of Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan from Valencia for a club-record fee.

The 25-year old has signed a five-year deal with the Seagulls, and will join up with his new teammates after the Confederations Cup.

Ryan, who has been capped 32 times by his country, impressed whilst on loan at Genk last season.

There is no doubt he will add much-needed experience to the dressing room. The goalkeeper has a lot of top-flight football under his belt, having played in the Australian, Belgian and Spanish first division. He has also played in European competition.

Ryan’s CV reads many individual and team accolades, which include a Belgian Cup, Belgian Pro League Goalkeeper of the Year 2014 and 2015 and an AFC Asian Cup win with the Socceroos in 2015.

The Australian signed a six-year deal with Valencia two years ago, but failed to secure a spot in the team. He won’t have to worry about that at the Amex, as he will without doubt be the new Albion no.1- especially following David Stockdale’s exit earlier in the week.

The transfer fee hasn’t been published, although we have been told it is a club-record fee. Whispers on social media state the figure to be around the £5m mark, although with four years left on his contract that number strikes a bit too low for my liking.

Saying that, this could be the start of a positive summer for the Seagulls, ahead of their debut season in the Premier League.

One would hope that Brighton’s club-record fee will be broken again (maybe more than once) before the window closes. If the club want to secure a striker who will guarantee goals, or a centre back who will command the penalty area, surely they would cost more than £5m?

You’ve only got to look at other clubs in the league and how much money they are spending on transfers. Leicester City have spent almost £20m on Harry Maguire, whilst Everton splashed £57m yesterday on both Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen!

It’s hard to tell until we see Ryan in the Premier League if we got him on the cheap, but if he is just as good as the former Sunderland stopper, a player who cost six times as much, then we can all have a little chuckle to ourselves.

But this shows Brighton’s intent. The club are willing to break their transfer record to bring in the players that they believe will help the team avoid relegation. Chris Hughton has signed two exciting players in Pascal Groß and Ryan, who could become Albion heroes should the club retain their Premier League status.

We should expect more signings in the coming weeks, and following the two deals the club have secured so far, I can’t wait to see who the next person to walk through the Amex doors will be.

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BHAFC: Ahmed Musa and Simon Kjaer the latest linked with a move to the Amex this summer.

Transfer rumours are beginning to intensify two days before the release of the 2017/18 Premier League fixtures. 

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Simon Kjaer be on the move this summer? (Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES via. DAILY EXPRESS http://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/790546/Man-Utd-250m-summer-spree-Simon-Kjaer-Adnan-Januzaj-transfer-news-gossip

Brighton and Hove Albion are slowly preparing their squad ahead of the new Premier League season.

The Seagulls, who will be making their first appearance in England’s top flight since 1983, have already secured German midfielder Pascal Groß and are reportedly close to agreeing a deal with Valencia for Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan. 

Now Chris Hughton’s side are looking to bring in both a forward and defender, with two players linked with a move to the Amex today.

Leicester’s Ahmed Musa, who only joined the Foxes last summer for £16m, is apparently in talks with Brighton and West Brom, according to his agent. 

Musa, who only netted four goals in 32 appearances during his debut season in England, wants to remain in England despite offers from abroad.

The 24-year-old would more than likely start more games on the south coast than he did at the King Power last season (7), especially as he brings a different offensive style to the table.

One of his biggest assets is his raw pace. Where Glenn Murray is more of a threat in the air, Musa would be the striker making the runs in behind the defenders. It has the potential to be a dynamic partnership.

That is if Hughton sticks with his 4-4-2. He had mentioned towards the end of last season that would like to mix it up this campaign, with the 4-4-1-1 formation being one of those he wants to try and implement on the team.

Groß is a player capable of playing in that no.10 role behind the striker, but could Musa do a job there? He has the pace to play up alongside whoever starts up top (Murray or Hemed would be the best bet at the moment), but would the Nigerian track back and defend when needed?

Due to their similarities, it would be unlikely we would see both Musa and Sam Baldock in the same side. Baldock was one of our best players last season when he wasn’t injured, and if anything, we missed a Baldock-type player when he was sidelined. Therefore, having both in the squad wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Danish international defender Simon Kjær is the other man linked with a move to the Amex.

The Fenerbahce player is a transfer target for Liverpool, but the Seagulls are set to make a £7.5m bid imminently. 

Kjær, has 59 caps to his name, and would provide competition for Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy at the heart of Brighton’s defence.

He has two years remaining on his contract and is reported to be well settled in Istanbul. Fenerbahce also value their man at £15m, which could prove a stumbling block.

The 28-year old centre back would be a major coup for the newly promoted side should they steal him away from the clutches of both Liverpool and AC Milan- two clubs also interested in Kjær’s services.

Dunk and Duffy formed a solid partnership last season, but with a lack of top flight experience and the likes of Conor Goldson slowly returning back to full fitness, the need for a new centre back has become a priority.

It will be interesting to see whether both transfers materialise into anything. Both ARE just rumours at the moment, and whilst it will be good to see both in an Albion shirt, there is a long way to go before that could happen.

 

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BHAFC: Two years of Chris Hughton.

From relegation candidates to promotion favourites, Chris Hughton has transformed Brighton and Hove Albion into a formidable Championship side in just 24 months. 

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Hughton outside the club’s elite training complex in Lancing. (Image Credit: skysports.com)

Following two Play-off semi-final defeats to Crystal Palace and Derby County respectively, the 2014-15 season was beginning to look like a disastrous campaign for Brighton.

Manager Sami Hyypia, who had replaced Oscar Garcia at the start of that season, resigned after registering just one win in 18 league games, leaving the club in the bottom three with half the season to go.

On New Year’s Eve 2014, club chairman Tony Bloom unveiled Hughton as the new Seagulls boss on a three-and-a-half year contract.

Having previously taken Newcastle United up and guided Birmingham City to the Play-Offs, Hughton had the vital experience of the league, but more importantly, he had the man-management skills needed to help rejuvenate a squad lacking belief.

Two players to have benefited massively from Hughton’s man-management are goalkeeper David Stockdale and striker Sam Baldock. They were signed for the club when Hyypia came in, and both endured poor starts to their Albion careers.

Since Hughton’s come in, both have grown in ability and confidence, which has lead to them both becoming two of the first names on the team sheet.

Another quality Hughton has brought to the south coast is an improved recruitment team.

An early sign of this was the signing of Beram Kayal from Celtic in January 2015.

The Israel international midfielder was influential in the middle of the park for the Seagulls, helping them to survive in England’s second tier.

The Sussex side ended the season in 20th position, six points clear of relegation.

The summer of 2015 saw major changes at the Albion, with Gaetan Bong, Liam Rosenior, Tomer Hemed, Niki Maenpaa, Conor Goldson, Uwe Hunemeier, Jamie Murphy all joining the club- along with the returning Bobby Zamora.

Although the fans, players and the manager didn’t expect Brighton to struggle again in 2015-16, no-one would have expected what was to come.

The Seagulls went 21 games unbeaten- a club record- spanning from August to December.

Hughton’s simple use of 4-4-2 was proving effective, with the two central midfielders holding and breaking up play, they were able to set up counter-attacks for the two wingers and strikers. The tiki-taka style Poyet and Garcia implemented at the club had now finally evolved into the attacking style fans had been hoping for since the club moved to the Amex five years ago- and that is thanks to Hughton.

The quality continued to come through the doors, with Anthony Knockaert and Jiri Skalek signing in January of this year.

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Anthony Knockaert. (Image Credit: dailystar.co.uk)

But more importantly, the belief and character within the dressing room was unlike any seen at the club before. Fans began to believe that promotion was very much possible, and that had an effect on the players.

The only thing lacking was a goalscorer. Hemed was the team’s top-scorer with 17 goals, but Zamora was second with just seven. In this division it’s not just about winning, but winning convincingly.

Michael Keane’s equaliser in stoppage time for promotion rivals Burnley at the Amex in April was an agonising blow, and a home draw to Derby County in the penultimate game of the season left the Seagulls on the verge of missing out on automatic promotion by the faintest of margins.

A final day showdown with Middlesbrough up at the Riverside was always going to be a tough match, and although the game ended a draw, Boro went up automatically by a single goal.

The players were on burnout after a long 46-game campaign, and were undone by Sheffield Wednesday in the Play-offs.

Worries of a Play-off hangover were squandered by Hughton, claiming the club would come back stronger both mentally and physically.

His wisdom, calmness and genuinely nice personality instantly reassured fans. They knew with Hughton in charge they could compete with the likes of Newcastle, Aston Villa, Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday.

The signing of Glenn Murray on a season-long loan from Bournemouth has another fantastic piece of business from Hughton, as well as the record £4.5m deal for the services of Ireland international Shane Duffy and the capture of Northern Ireland midfielder Oliver Norwood.

Hughton has proved his worth by keeping the same belief in the squad since he came in and that has reflected in Brighton’s results this season.

Having lost just twice all campaign, the club are currently on a 17 games unbeaten since September.

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Chris Hughton and the players after the Brightons win at Wigan earlier this season. (Image Credit: theargus.co.uk)

The difference this season is the jump in quality on the pitch. The team is now able to keep up wins without playing well- which is always a sign of a good side.

Duffy and Lewis Dunk have formed a rock-solid partnership, meaning that Brighton have the best defensive record in the league.

Murray, Baldock and Knockaert has also formed a fearsome partnership up top, with the three contributing to a majority of the Seagulls goals this season.

Under Hughton, Brighton have picked up 96 points in the calendar year, the most out of any side in the top four divisions.

Going into 2017 and Hughton’s third year in charge, the Seagulls are second in the Championship. They are just one point behind leaders Newcastle but more importantly they are eight clear of third placed Reading, with a much healthier goal difference.

Promotion to the Premier League with this team would be his most memorable achievement, and it would make 30,000 fans dreams come true.

 

 

 

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BHAFC: 5-0 trashing of promotion rivals Norwich City best result of Chris Hughton era.

A hattrick from Glenn Murray was one of many positives on the pitch as Brighton and Hove Albion sent a message out to the other teams fighting for automatic promotion.

The Seagulls were clinical in front of goal and although they were helped out by some horrific defending by Norwich, Chris Hughton’s men won every battle on the pitch in all positions.

This was as close to a perfect performance as possible, but Brighton did start the game slowly.

The passing was sloppy, and Norwich did enjoy the majority of possession in that first 45.

Yes Murray scored inside six minutes, but that was only because of Michael McGovern’s heavy first touch.

Apart from that, it is hard to remember any real save McGovern had to make in the Canaries goal during that first half.

Saying that, take nothing away from the Seagulls and Hughton, who deserves a result like that after what has been 18 months of hard work on the south coast.

Since the former Newcastle boss took over, Brighton have looked a formidable force in the Championship. After last seasons heartache, its clear there is no Play-off hangover at the Amex.

The win yesterday is a testament to what the 57-year old manager has achieved already at the club.

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Anthony Knockaert chips Micheal McGovern. (image credit: Instagram- officialbhafc)

Seagulls fans haven’t seen their side destroy a side like they did yesterday for a while, and for it to be another team that will be fighting for the top two positions makes it all the sweeter.

It’s hard not to look at Murray as the standout Brighton player on the day for his stellar performance, but Gaetan Bong , Shane Duffy, Steve Sidwell, Dale Stephens and Jiri Skalek all deserve a mention too.

The back four were immense. No Norwich player was able to find any space within 18 yards of goal, and their best chance came from a Wes Hoolahan volley from 25 yards.

Shane Duffy won every header ahead of Cameron Jerome, whilst his central defensive partner Lewis Dunk got himself on the scoresheet with a powerful header from Jiri Skalek’s corner.

The Czech international assisted Albion’s second and third goals of the game with pinpoint crosses, something which gives him the edge over Jamie Murphy and possibly the returning Solly March as Brighton head into a tough November.

Steve Sidwell worked his absolute socks off in the second half to break down and intercept Norwich attacks.

And of course Murray deserves another mention for his hattrick.

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Glenn Murray with the match ball after his hattrick against Norwich. (image credit: Instagram- officialbhafc)

Ok, two of which came from Norwich errors, but if the 33-year old plays like he did yesterday for the rest of the campaign he will net 20 plus easily.

He outmuscled defenders, won all headers he battled for, held up the ball well and finished instinctively. It was the perfect centre forward performance.

Let’s not forget Norwich were a Premier League side last season, and still have a majority of their squad from the last campaign. That’s what makes this a huge 3 points.

A tough trip to Bristol City is next for the Seagulls, before home matches to Aston Villa and Fulham respectively.

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BHAFC: Niki Mäenpää’s performance proved David Stockdale doesn’t need to be rushed back into first team action.

Albion Analysis: #4 Rotherham United (H), 16th August 2016.

Brighton and Hove Albion moved to the top of the Sky Bet Championship after comfortably beating Rotherham United 3-0 at the Amex.

Goals from Anthony Knockaert, Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed prolonged the Seagulls unbeaten start to the campaign, with the defence keeping a fourth consecutive clean sheet.

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Glenn Murray scores his third in two games since returning to the Albion. (Image Credit: Paul Hazlewood, seagulls.co.uk)

Credit is due to the likes of Bruno and Lewis Dunk for their fantastic performances at the back for Brighton so far this season, but yesterday it was Niki Mäenpää’s chance to prove his worth.

The Finnish shot stopper made his home league debut for the Albion in place of regular ‘keeper David Stockdale, who came off injured in last weekend’s clash with Nottingham Forest. 

Albeit it was an easy night for the Seagulls on the whole, the goalkeeper still had to stop the minimal Rotherham threat at times, and made some good saves when called upon.

Manager Chris Hughton was full of praise for Mäenpää; and he may even be in contention to start the weekend’s fixture away at Reading.

Since he joined the Albion just over 12 months ago, the 31-year old has helped transform Stockdale into one of the most potent goalkeepers of the division.

Cast your mind back to the Sami Hyypia era of 2014-15, and you’d remember a very different Stockdale, who produced some pretty bad clangers between the sticks.

Mäenpää though has helped develop Stockdale’s judgment when to come out, when to collect the ball in mid air, his positioning and most of all his distribution.

His work off the playing pitch hasn’t been brought up enough; and his performances in the League Cup and FA Cup last season weren’t bad at all.

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The Brighton players celebrate Hemed’s penalty. (Image Credit: Paul Hazlewood, seagulls.co.uk)

It was only a matter of time before he got his league bow, as no player can remain fully fit all the time, and the 31-year old took his opportunity with both hands.

As much as it would please me to see Stockdale return in goal; I think Mäenpää should play, give him a chance to consolidate his place.

Reading at the Madejski will be a tough place to go and a good test for the Finnish goalkeeper.

Squad rotation is so important in this division; and it also creates good competition for places.

Should Mäenpää play and do well against Reading, then we know for certain we have two very good goalkeepers at our disposal here at the club.

 

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BHAFC: Knockaert once again ran the show as Forest are brushed aside.

Albion Analysis: #3 Nottingham Forest (H), 12th August 2016

Brighton temporarily moved top of the Sky Bet Championship table with a comprehensive 3-0 win against Nottingham Forest at the Amex.

Despite it still being early days, and other clubs playing throughout the weekend, Albion fans can expect the club to remain near the top of the table and in the hunt for automatic promotion once again, should that level of performance remain consistent over the course of the season.

On what was the fifth year anniversary of moving to the Amex Stadium, it was Brighton’s two biggest signings from the recent transfer windows that secured the three points for Chris Hughton’s side; Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert.

Murray may have stood out with his two goals on what was his second home debut for the club, but Knockaert was the best player on the pitch last night.

Knockaert admitted he felt extra motivated to perform well as it was also the anniversary of his brothers death; and the 27-year old wanted to make him proud of his performance.

Right from the outset, one could sense he was going to be on top of his game.

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Anthony Knockaert running at the Forest defence. (Image Credit: Paul Hazlewood, seagulls.co.uk)

The little wizard seemed to cast spell after spell over his bewitched opponents, most notably Alex Iacovitti and Ben Osborn.

His conversion of Gaetan Bong’s inviting cross in the 36th minute opened the account for Brighton last night, and the Frenchman struggled to hold back the tears as he dedicated his first goal of the season to his late brother.

But it was a performance that Albion fans have been used to seeing since the winger joined the club in January. He has added a new level of creativity to the club, the likes of which we haven’t seen here since the days of Vicente donning the blue and white stripes.

Knockaert’s trickery and pace towards the Forest’s young defence caused problems for Phillip Montanier’s side all night, and once again he was involved in Albion’s third goal.

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Brighton celebrate their third goal of the evening. (Image Credit: Paul Hazlewood, seagulls.co.uk)

He led a Brighton counter attack and fed the ball to Sam Baldock who coincidentally laid the ball off to Murray to score his second of the night.

It was a terrific night for the Frenchman, and to top it off, he told media after the match he remains fully focused on the Seagull’s promotion push and wants to remain on the South Coast.

Hopefully that ends the whole Newcastle fiasco.

 

Posted in BHAFC, Football

BHAFC: Fringe and youth players leave Chris Hughton with early selection headache.

Albion Analysis: #2 Colchester United, 9th August 2016

Brighton and Hove Albion progressed to the second round of the EFL Cup with a convincing 4-0 victory over Colchester United at the Amex on Tuesday night.

Manager Chris Hughton made 11 changes from the side that drew at Derby at the weekend, with three Under 23 players making their senior debuts for the club.

Ben White, who signed his first professional contract this summer, made the biggest claim to start against Nottingham Forest on Friday with a fantastic performance.

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Ben White (Above) clearing the ball out of danger. (Image Credit: Paul Hazlewood, http://www.seagulls.co.uk)

His defensive positioning and commandment of the air was clear to see, and it limited Colchester to any worthwhile chances during the whole 90 minutes.

Hughton could only praise him during his post match interviews, and there would be no harm in giving him another opportunity so early into the season.

It would also allow Bruno to return to his best position at right back, although White would need to form a very quick partnership with Lewis Dunk at the heart of Brighton’s backline against far better opponents.

Fellow under 23 players Rob Hunt and Sam Adekugbe also played the full game at right and left back respectively. They both worked extremely hard up and down the flanks to provide an option going forward and then track the Colchester wingers back.

The quality of all three’s performances just how far the youth side has progressed under Simon Rusk.

Perhaps allowing the youngsters to play in the recently revamped EFL Trophy isn’t such a bad idea, as it will provide them with the opportunity to play more fixtures against opponents of Colchester’s level, as well as prepare them better for the first team.

Ahead of the defence, Albion fans were treated to see new signing Oliver Norwood make his debut for the Seagulls in centre midfield.

The Northern Irish man made a decent start to his Albion career as he was involved in most of the Albion chances in the first half.

His set piece and passing ability was on show occasionally, as he came close twice to assisting Brighton’s opener.

He also had an effort just before half time fizz just wide of the post from 20 yards.

But for me, he still remains a little rusty after helping Northern Ireland reach the last 16 of the Euros this summer; and it paved dividend in the second half as he faded out of the game and became less influential.

However, he could easily slot in alongside Beram Kayal in place of Steve Sidwell against Forest in order to give more match time with his new team mates and allow them to gel further.

Hughton’s biggest selection test for Friday however, remains to be the wingers.

Kazenga LuaLua and Jamie Murphy were Albion’s dynamic duo, as they tore the Colchester defence to pieces in the final 25 minutes.

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Jamie Murphy scores Albion’s second goal of the evening. (Image Credit: Paul Hazlewood, http://www.seagulls.co.uk)

Murphy scored twice, including a very fine solo effort, whilst LuaLua assisted in two of Albion’s goals.

Most will say Anthony Knockaert is a certainty for the right wing position, and I would probably go with that, seeing as he is our most creative player and can change a game in an instant.

That therefore leaves three wingers fighting out for the left side of midfield; Murphy, LuaLua and Jiri Skalek.

Whilst Skalek provides the biggest threat offensively with his delivery ability, one cannot simply ignore the performances by both Murphy and LuaLua last night, even if it was against Colchester.

All three will be confident going into Friday’s match, and I reckon Chris will be constantly changing his mind right up to game day.

Even the Albion strikers last night made claims for a starting position after both found the target.

Sam Baldock and Elvis Manu scored their first goals of the campaign respectively, and with Tomer Hemed and Glenn Murray firing blanks at Derby, would it be worth bringing in the pace of either Baldock or Manu to freshen up the side?

Baldock in particular impressed with an energetic performance. Last night’s stand in captain opened the scoring with a lovely curled effort into the top right corner and will be as eager as anyone to do the same against Forest.

Some will read this and think hang on, we played extremely well up at Derby so why change it?

I completely agree, we did play well, and we have no need to change the side from last weekend for the Forest match, but the cup game last night showed us how competitive this squad is now.

Where we have failed ever so slightly with our team up to now is squad depth. Whilst some may think we still don’t have enough and need to bring more in, I think we have raw quality coming through the youth sides nowadays compared to five or six years ago. For me, they deserve an opportunity to show us and the manager just how good they are on the biggest of stages.

We have a healthy competition for places, and that can only do more good than harm.

The joys of being a manager, eh Chris?

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BHAFC: Bruno proved once again why he is Brighton’s best defender.

Albion Analysis: #1 Derby County (A), 6th August 2016

Brighton and Hove Albion opened their Championship season with a respectable 0-0 draw away at fellow Promotion candidates Derby County yesterday.

It was a game which could so easily have ended with the Seagulls travelling back to the south coast with all three points.

But despite this, the majority of fans travelled home happy with the performance and were even more optimistic of the what the team can achieve this season.

With David Stockdale, Beram Kayal, Anthony Knockaert, Jiri Skalek and Glenn Murray impressing for the Albion, it was actually the Seagull’s captain Bruno who caught my eye most.

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Bruno pre-season. (Image Credit: seagulls.co.uk)

It was his first competitive match since being handed the Albion captaincy in the summer, and he excelled in a position he hasn’t been accustom to.

He was vocal and kept the defence in shape. He was relatively unchallenged by the Derby County forwards and looked very comfortable alongside Lewis Dunk.

His calmness on and off the ball makes him one of our best players technically and although he wasn’t bombing down the right flank like we all know and love, he was a rock in the heart of the Albion backline.

His ability to play anywhere along the back line is a relief in my eyes, as before the match I was a little worried that the creativity of Tom Ince and strength of Darren Bent would have made it a difficult afternoon for the Spaniard.

Lewis Dunk has been well in the media spotlight, with a move to the Premier League swirling around constantly all summer.

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Brumo promoting the new away strip which was worn yesterday at Derby. (Image Credit: Seagulls.co.uk)

The centre half may be a good player, but as he proved last season, he can sometimes make silly challenges and get sent off when the Albion are on top. His dismissals against QPR in December last year and Derby in May evidence that.

I think Bruno may have had a word with the young Englishman over the summer break and told him to be more focused when making a tackle, and making sure he wins the ball. It paid dividend yesterday as Dunk produced a commanding performance.

That’s why Bruno is captain.That’s why he is crucial to Albion’s promotion push.

He is our leader and he obviously has the respect from all his team mates on the pitch. Should he get injured, I worry that leadership and experience he brings would be missed massively.

I dare say he would be missed more than our creative players further up the field.

Manager Chris Hughton was also very pleased with Bruno’s performance but is adamant that the club will look to buy a centre back before the transfer window slams shut.

Bruno’s best position is at right back, but it’s good to see that he can do the job at centre half and no rush to buy the right centre half is needed.