Albion will look to ensure the Amex becomes a fortress again as they return to Sussex soil to take on fellow play-off pushers Nottingham Forest.
Having endured a tough two weeks on the road, picking up just a point away to Charlton following a dismal derby defeat, the Seagulls will want to make their home advantage count as they tussle 3 of their next 4 Championship opponents at the Amex.
Sean O’Driscoll has turned Forest into an upwardly mobile Championship side since taking the reigns in the summer following the takeover by new Arab owners. Despite a squad rich with depth and quality, they have suffered a mixed bag of results to date – but sat just a place below Albion in 9th, the play-offs are certainly a realistic goal.
Gus Poyet has picked out Billy Sharp as a key dangerman, and admires O’Driscoll’s approach to the game.
He told seagulls.co.uk, “Sharp is a very important player and if you don’t keep an eye on him he will score.
“As a club, Nottingham Forest are pushing. They are pushing with Premier League players which is a way of trying to go up, with a manager who likes to really play football by passing the ball and playing technical players.
“Every now and again they change their shape which is quite difficult to play against.”
Brighton & Hove Albion Team News:
Midfielder Gary Dicker is likely to miss out once again with a bruised knee, however Lewis Dunk returns from a one-game suspension. Bruno will be in for a late fitness test.
Andrea Orlandi remains sidelined with a broken rib, whilst fellow Spaniard Vicente continues his own rehabilitation programme following a thigh tendon injury.
Player to watch: Craig Mackail-Smith
Back to scoring ways, thanks to a sharp finish at the Valley last weekend, 10-goal Mackail-Smith has already surpassed last season’s tally – but won’t want to stop there. Right winger Will Buckley will be in for an interesting battle with ex-Seagull Dan Harding – a contest he won fairly convincingly last time they faced each other.
Nottingham Forest Team News:
O’Driscoll has Greg Halford back amongst his options with the defender having recovered from a calf injury, though Chelsea loanee Sam Hutchinson is still sidelined.
Jermaine Jenas is also absent for the Reds, however striker Simon Cox will return to the squad and could be involved after recovering sooner than anticipated from a foot injury.
Player to watch: Billy Sharp
A late arrival on loan from Southampton, Sharp has shown the sort of poaching instincts he has become renowned for – notching 6 league goals so far this campaign. A clever mover in and around the box, he has struck up a potent partnership with Dexter Blackstock up-front, and Albion will need to be wary of both – although the two offer different qualities.
The results did not really reflect the on-field performances in the sides’ two meetings last season, as Albion escaped with 4 points despite a couple of below-par displays.
A trademark last minute Will Buckley winner clinched the points for the Seagulls in the Amex fixture, whilst a late equaliser from ex-Albion defender Joel Lynch prevented Sam Vokes’ opener from sealing a double for Poyet’s men in the reverse fixture.
Graham Salisbury is the man in charge of this one.