Albion will hope to maintain and drive home their top six-ward momentum as they tackle mid-table Burnley at the Amex this weekend.
A fine rearguard performance saw the Seagulls emerge surprise 2-0 victors at league-leaders Cardiff in midweek, and a home win here would see Poyet’s men break into the top six for the first time since early October – providing ‘Boro drop points.
Sean Dyche’s Clarets have been inconsistent of late, and currently sit slap-bang in the middle of the Championship. They do, however, have an outside chance of a play-off spot heading into the run-in, such is the competitive nature of this division, so it’s all to play for on south coast tomorrow.
First team coach Charlie Oatway has warned his players against letting their level drop following Tuesday’s superb result at Cardiff.
He told seagulls.co.uk, “The manager is very focused and he will never let up, and that rubs off on the whole squad, so there is no chance that we will be taking our foot off the gas.
“When we get on the bus after a game a few of us will relax by watching TV or watching a movie but Gus will just get his laptop out and then start planning for Burnley, or whoever the next game is.
“We might have beaten the league leaders but every game is difficult in this league and if you relax for one game you will get punished. We have a few home games coming up and they are opportunities for us to get another win.
“There’s never been a game where we’ve gone out to try and nick a point or to see if we can shut up shop. We go into every game looking for three points and Saturday will be no different.”
Brighton & Hove Albion Team News:
Ashley Barnes returns from a 3-match suspension, whilst fellow striker Craig Mackail-Smith and captain Gordon Greer are set to return to the squad following minor injuries.
Poyet will hope to have Dean Hammond available after the Saints loanee was withdrawn early in midweek – his absence would be further felt with stalwart Liam Bridcutt starting a 2-game suspension for picking up 10 yellows.
Player to watch: Andrea Orlandi
On target at Cardiff for his 5th of the season, the ex-Swansea man has proven a regular source of goals of late, often arriving late in the box to exploit the quality of service from wide areas. This, combined with his composure on the ball and ability to unlock a defence, mean he is fast becoming a key member of the first team.
Burnley Team News:
Young forward Danny Ings may return to the squad after a hamstring injury saw him miss Burnley’s midweek draw with Middlesbrough.
Winger Ross Wallace, however, remains out with a knee injury, whilst Dyche is also without Michael Duff and Ben Mee. Sam Vokes could start against his former club.
Player to watch: Charlie Austin
The former bricklayer has a penchant for scoring against the Albion, with 4 goals in his 6 meetings with Poyet’s men. A natural-born poacher with good aerial ability, Austin has notched 24 goals so far this season, and although his form has tailed off slightly after a sublime start – he’ll remain a threat to the Albion backline.
Past Meetings & Stats
Albion will be out to avenge for a perceived injustice born through the 1-0 defeat in last season’s corresponding fixture, during which the hosts had 2 men sent off inside 15 minutes – yet could and probably should have taken at least a point.
The Seagulls went some way to righting those wrongs against the Lancashire side with a comfortable 3-1 victory at Turfmoor earlier in the season, where Craig Mackail-Smith stole the show with a sublime double.