Brighton manager looking for league lift in FA Cup

Date published: Friday 26th January 2018 1:47

Chris Hughton hopes a morale-boosting FA Cup win can give Brighton confidence going into successive games against Premier League relegation rivals.

Albion travel to Championship side Middlesbrough for a fourth round tie on Saturday before facing important top-flight fixtures against fellow strugglers Southampton, West Ham, Stoke and Swansea.

Manager Hughton has seen his 16th-placed Seagulls win just one of their last 13 league games to slide perilously close to the bottom three.

Just six points separate bottom club Swansea and Watford in 10th and, while Hughton wants to progress in the cup, he admits it is difficult not to have an eye on upcoming matches.

Asked if the Premier League games were on his mind, Hughton replied: “Probably to a degree yes, because we know how important they are, particularly in the position that we are.

“But you can’t look too far ahead because if you do then you take your eye off what is important.

“What we want to be able to do is be in this next round of the FA Cup and we know, even from our last experiences in this competition, beating Crystal Palace (in the third round), there’s a better feel after the game going into the next league game if you win a game than if you don’t so at the moment all of our focuses are very much on this game.”

After making changes for the Palace clash, Hughton once again plans to rotate his squad in the cup, with record-signing Jurgen Locadia and midfielder Steve Sidwell the only injury absentees.

He believes Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough will provide tough opposition and has backed them to challenge for promotion and an instant return to the top flight.

“They’re a team that I very much expect to have a strong run through to the end of the season,” Hughton added.

“If I’m looking at the line-ups in the last few games, what they do have is good options.

“Tony is a manager I know very well and (there is) never a game against any of his teams that’s not a difficult game.

“We’re going to have to put as much into this game as we can.”

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