Seagulls face difficult task to fell Tricky Trees on home soil

Paddy McCourt, photographed in action at Burton Albion by Paul Hazlewood, has impressed his manager
Paddy McCourt, photographed in action at Burton Albion by Paul Hazlewood, has impressed his manager

The Albion, buoyed by a win at Burton, know the Forest represent a tougher challenge.

Brighton and Hove Albion meet Nottingham Forest at the City Ground buoyed by their midweek win at Burton but knowing the Championship’s early pace-setters represent a far tougher challenge.

The Seagulls clinched an encouraging and ultimately comfortable 3-0 away win in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night, with a number of players staking a claim for a start in the East Midlands tomorrow.

One such stand-out performer was Paddy McCourt.The mercurial former Celtic and Barnsley attacking talent may have the look of an unkempt ageing mid-1990s indie band member, but with the ball at his feet he is a footballing dreamweaver capable of genuine magic.

He impressed from the bench against Blackpool last weekend and surely did enough from the start at Burton to be considered for a start at Forest. The only question marks over his suitability for a starting role so far have been fitness-related.

His boss, though, is confident McCourt is on the right path to regular first team action.Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 09.42.02

Speaking ahead of today's match, Sami Hyypiä told the club’s website: “Paddy’s a very good player on the ball, he can see passes, he can dribble and is quite calm on the ball.

“He trusts his skills and he has the quality to hurt people with his passing and dribbling.

“We need to see for Saturday what the situation is, but he’s much fitter.”

Rohan Ince and Craig Mackail- Smith did their chances no harm either. Both were on the score sheet and Ince could get the nod alongside Danny Holla in midfield, with Hyypiä no doubt mindful of Forest’s impressive attacking pedigree. Ince would provide a physical shield in front of a back four tasked with repelling the threat of Brit Assombalonga.

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 09.42.16The £5 million summer signing has a division high eight league goals already this campaign, a figure which works out at a massive 47% of his team’s total league goals.

Rather ominously, Assombalonga was rested during Forest’s close-fought 3-1 Capital One Cup defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

In fact, Assombalonga has quite a supporting cast at the City Ground. Fellow summer signing Michail Antonio has started the season in every bit as impressive form as the striker. Antonio, who can operate in a range of attacking positions, has four goals and five assists from the opening eight games.

Elsewhere, the evergreen Andy Reid is still string-pulling to his heart’s content in central positions while in Chris Burke, Henri Lansbury and Matty Fryatt, Forest manager Stuart Pearce has an enviable amount of attacking options.

Forest have won three and drawn one at home in the league this season – scoring 12 goals and conceding four.

It won’t be easy for the Seagulls, but tomorrow’s game does represent a first real opportunity for Hyypiä’s squad to test itself against the division’s best.