Roberto De Zerbi says he is looking forward to seeing Moises Caicedo and Robert Sanchez ahead of their reunion in Brighton’s Carabao Cup tie at Chelsea.
Midfielder Caicedo and goalkeeper Sanchez joined the Blues for a combined £140million last month, with defender Levi Colwill also returning to Stamford Bridge after a season-long loan deal with the Seagulls.
The trio could all feature when Chelsea host Brighton under the Stamford Bridge lights on Wednesday night.
But, speaking ahead of his side’s third-round visit to west London, De Zerbi said: “I am looking forward to seeing them and always happy to meet my former players.
“Now they don’t play with us, but I will hug them with pleasure.”
De Zerbi’s side will fancy their chances of progressing to the fourth round. Brighton are an impressive third in the Premier League table following five wins from their opening six fixtures, with Chelsea languishing in the bottom half.
Mauricio Pochettino has overseen Chelsea’s worst start to a top-flight season in 45 years following a 1-0 home defeat against Aston Villa last weekend.
Brighton, who were forced to come from behind in their win over south-coast rivals Bournemouth, also have the better recent head-to-head record against Chelsea after taking wins, home and away, in the league last season.
But De Zerbi said: “We have big respect for Pochettino and Chelsea. They have a great squad, but I don’t know about the problems they have.
“For us, it will be a very tough game. We have to think about ourselves, to organise and play better than we did in the last game and to have a clear idea, because in the first half (against Bournemouth) it was not very clear.”
De Zerbi says he will take a late decision on Evan Ferguson after withdrawing the teenager at half-time against Bournemouth, while Pascal Gross will be absent again.
The Italian added: “I have not decided about Evan yet. I would like him to play at his best. He wasn’t in his best physical condition on Sunday but he wanted to play.
“We need the best condition of the players if we want to compete every three days. We have to change the XI and take the best decisions game-by-game.”