Hughton keen to maintain gap over play-off hopefuls

Chris Hughton (Picture by Paul Hazlewood: BHAFC)
Chris Hughton (Picture by Paul Hazlewood: BHAFC)

Seagulls boss Chris Hughton is keen to return to winning ways as quick as possible to maintain the gap his side have over teams looking to get into the top six.

Albion are fourth in the Championship but are winless in five matches, with three draws and two defeats in the run. They are still eight points ahead of seventh-placed Sheffield Wednesday, ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Wolves.

Hughton said: “That’s probably the most important thing and that’s one we’ve got to be very guarded about. That’s where we need to make sure that we get back to winning ways because, if I look at that top group of teams, I don’t see too much dramatic happening there because they are quality teams there.

“But there are teams just outside of the top six that are very capable of being in the top six. That’s been shown season after season and it’s about putting good runs together at significant times.

“It is a tough division and we are very conscious of a group just outside of the top six that are very capable of getting in it.”

Captain Gordon Greer is rated “touch and go” for the Wolves game by Hughton, while winger Rajiv van La Parra, on loan from Wolves, is ineligible.

James Wilson, after struggling with illness in the last two games, is okay to play.

On the game, Hughton said: “They’re in good form at the moment, they’ve got a system that they play and play it very well. They don’t change the team too often so they’ve certainly got that stability and in Kenny (Jackett), they’ve got an excellent manager who knows this division very well.

“We expect a tough game. I saw them at Charlton at the weekend and it was a very effective and efficient performance. One that, of course, saw them win the game so we expect a very, very tough game.”

Liam Ridgewell has joined the Seagulls on a six-week deal from MLS club Portland Timbers, who he captained to the MLS Cup last season. He could make his debut at Hull in the FA Cup on January 9 and Hughton said: “The important thing for us is that we need to make sure (we’ve got cover), particularly in the defensive area and in the left-back area where we’ve lost certainly a natural left-back in Gaetan and Liam Rosenior, who covered in that position so well.

“In their place we’ve got Calderon, who’s done a great job and is very much a utility player. Certainly we needed strengthening in that position with the amount of games that we’ve got. It is a short term loan where we’re hoping by the time we get through this period that Gaetan will be fully fit and up and running.

“He brings experience, he’s a player that is certainly in good form at the moment on the back of a very successful period this season in the MLS. He knows the division very well and I know him from my time at Birmingham, so he’ll be an experienced campaigner and of course, more importantly, a very good player.”

Today marks a year in charge of the Albion for Hughton and reflecting on his 12 months, he said: “It’s been enjoyable. We had a good summer which enabled us to have the start which we did and certainly the progress.

“We feel, not only as a team but as a club, that we’ve made progress over this last year. We’ve very much enjoyed being at this end of the table and the challenge.

“Probably the last few weeks have shown us what a challenge this division is and the quality of team in this division. We’ve made good progress over this year.”

Looking ahead to the January transfer window, Hughton said: “It’s very important but as well as trying to get the opportunity to bring players in, it’s also about getting players back.

“At this minute, Sam Baldock and Kazenga LuaLua are very close, so this period which we’ve gone through, which is a difficult period with injuries, it will be good to get them back.

“But we’ll work as hard as we can to bring in additions to the squad. It’s always very difficult in January and that’s through my experiences. Everybody wants to wait and generally most of the deals are done late in January but we are working as hard as we can.

“We don’t feel we need to bring in a lot, what we feel we need to do is get adequate cover and quality in some areas we’ve had difficulities with the injuries we’ve had.”

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