Albion will look to make up ground on their fellow play-off hopefuls as they host sixth placed Watford in a live Sky clash.
An unlikely 10 day break from league action – in the middle of the usually busy festive period – has allowed the Seagulls to recuperate and return to near full strength for this tie. With three wins on the trot, Poyet will be looking to his increased options to regain that winning edge.
After a difficult start, Gianfranco Zola has turned the Hornets into an exciting, free-scoring outfit with realistic ambitions of securing a play-off spot. With a host of attacking talent at his disposal (mostly on loan from Udinese) Zola appears to have found the winning formula in recent months, and will want to keep that momentum going.
Poyet admits he has taken advantage of their lengthy break to try out some new things on the training ground.
He told seagulls.co.uk, “I normally like to train. If you asked me when I was a player I just wanted to play matches all of the time but as a manager I like train because you can try different things and prepare in a different way, especially when the opposition does something different.
“Watford play different to the rest and most of the time they play a different system as well. We need to adapt and you need to train things for that system.
“In terms of tactical work it was similar to pre-season but not in terms of physical work. It was an interesting week for me to see lots of different things and to start bringing back some injured players but the result on Saturday will say if it’s been a good thing or not.”
Brighton & Hove Albion Team News:
Poyet has his options boosted by the return from injury of Andrea Orlandi, Bruno and Gary Dicker, who have all trained with no issues this week.
Vicente (thigh tendon) has his sights set on a possible return to action for Albion’s FA Cup tie with Newcastle next week.
Player to watch: Andrea Orlandi
The Spanish midfielder had nailed down a first team spot before a rib injury sustained at Palace saw him sidelined for a month. Composed on the ball and the has the much-envied ability to open up a defence with a single pass – Orlandi brings a balance to an otherwise defence-minded midfield trio.
Watford Team News:
Watford team news to be confirmed.
Player to watch: Matej Vydra
On loan from Udinese, the Czech forward has netted 10 goals in 19 appearances so far this season. With a cool head in front of goal, Vydra ha earned a reputation for his classy finishing – both from one-on-one situations, and from outside the area. Albion will need to limit the time and space he is afforded in dangerous areas.
Poyet’s men ground out a hard-fought win over the Hornets in a scrappy affair at Vicarage Road in September, as Albion sat top of the league. Craig Mackail-Smith’s penalty sealed a 1-0 win.
They took only a point from a robust Watford side last season – then under the guidance of Sean Dyche. Troy Deeney scored the only goal in a 1-0 defeat at Vicarage, before an entertaining 2-2 draw was played out in the reverse fixture.