By Shania Bedi
Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter has challenged his team to improve even further following their triumph against Tottenham in their previous Premier League match.
The Seagulls ended a run of almost two months without a win by humiliating Spurs with a 3-0 win at the Amex Stadium before the international break, but Potter has warned his players that they must keep level headed.
“All the performances have been good in relation to the opposition we’ve played, but the Premier League and the margins are quite small, you have to do a lot to win’’, said Potter.
“We had a bit of luck and played well and it’s good for the players and supporters to experience a home win because it’s important for us to keep that dynamic. We know it’s a new game and we’ve had an international break so we have to start again.”
“I felt that the daily work of the players, the consistency of their performances, was that the performance that you witnessed (against Spurs) was a possibility.
“Now our challenge is that we have to maintain that level and try to improve. I still think there’s room for improvement, we’re not at our max, we’re at maximum effort but I still think we can improve, so it’s good."
Albion face Aston Villa away from home on Saturday, who also found their form before the international break with a 5-1 win against Norwich, and Potter is aware of the threat that the promoted club pose on his team.
“They’ve been strong at home, Villa Park, it’s an intimidating place when the crowd are behind the team. Dean (Smith) has done a great job there coming in, promotion and essentially invested again so they’re a strong side."
Brighton attacker Neal Maupay will face Smith for the first time since playing under him in the Championship at Brentford. The summer signing scored 28 goals under Smith last season and Potter believes more is to come from the forward, despite scoring three goals so far in the current campaign.
“We’re delighted to have him, he works really well for the team. He’s scored some goals for us which is nice for a forward to get off the mark. He’s making the step up from the championship so there’s always an adaptation you have to go through. I still think there’s more to come from Neal but at the same time he’s still contributing to what we’re trying to do.”
Aaron Connolly returns to the South Coast after his debut match for the Republic of Ireland in the international break. The 19-year-old scored a brace on his Premier League debut against Tottenham and has been urged to be protected by the Brighton boss following Connolly’s rapid rise in recent weeks.
"He's had quite a couple of weeks, hasn't he? He's 19-years-old, we have to look after him, make sure that he has a long successful career. The last couple of weeks he’s made his Premier League full debut and his full international debut, so he’s had a lot of excitement, a lot of exposure but he can deal with that.
"We just have to make sure he’s able to bring himself to the game every time he’s on the pitch, just like every player, that’s the challenge, whether it’s from the start or the last 30 minutes of the game, he’s that type of player that he can influence the game in different stages.”
Potter confirmed Leandro Trossard is fit to travel to Villa Park this weekend after recovering from a groin injury, but may not be ready to start just yet.
"Leo Trossard has been training with us this week," said Brighton’s head coach. "We need to careful with him. He is probably not ready to start, that is fair to say. But he is training with the group and we will make a decision as to whether he is in the group.
"I have problem now in terms of leaving good players out. You want players to do well but sometimes you are out the team for different reasons and the challenge is to do well and stake their claim for a place. We want that healthy competition."