Graham Potter's tough call on Enock Mwepu just got a little easier ahead of Leeds
Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter has some crunch decisions to make for the clash against lowly Leeds United at the Amex Stadium this Saturday.
Albion are winless in the previous seven matches but have been boosted by the return of midfielder Enock Mwepu.
The Zambia international injured his hip in the first half of Brighton's 1-1 draw with Newcastle earlier this month and missed the 2-0 loss at Aston Villa last Saturday.
Mwepu was just finding his best form following his £23m summer arrival from RB Salzburg. The 23-year-old scored a cracking goal against Liverpool at Anfield in the 2-2 draw and his power and drive in midfield is a nice combination alongside Yves Bissouma.
Mwepu has trained this week and is available for selection but whether he is fit enough to start against a high-octane Leeds United is something Potter is considering carefully.
"He’s recovered well and trained this week," confirmed Potter. "We need to see how he is tomorrow, but he’s got a really good chance of being in the squad.
"We will look at his game time in terms of how much he can play, but he’s available."
Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez is also set to return having served his one match suspension at Aston Villa last week. Jason Steele stood-in admirably at Villa Park and has given Potter a decision to make – especially as Sanchez’s form was patchy just prior to his suspension.
“We believe in Rob a lot, we know his quality and we also know Jason’s qualities,” said Potter. “They’re two different goalkeepers at two different stages of their careers, but they’re both really important for us.”
Danny Welbeck (hamstring) and Steven Alzate (ankle) are sidelined but Aaron Connolly is available following his heel problem. “He lost time so it is a question of getting him back up to speed and making sure he has enough training in his body which he has done,” said Potter.
The head coach also believes his players are full of confidence despite not winning in their previous seven matches.
Albion skipper Lewis Dunk admitted after last week’s 2-0 loss to Aston Villa that Brighton are in a “bit of a rut” and are determined to change their fortunes against Leeds.
Brighton dropped to ninth in the table but they remain six points ahead of Leeds who have struggled to find their best form this season and arrive on the back of a 2-1 loss at Tottenham.
“We have a very good group in terms of how they see the league and the situation,” said Potter when asked if the winless run has damaged morale. “The perspective and the reality of the situation.
"They have been through the process quite a lot. They know that Premier League wins do not come cheaply. You have to earn them and fight for them. If you are not getting them you have to pick up points which is what we have done.
“It is natural after a game, you want to win and you are disappointed when you don’t. It is normal but the response of the players this week has been really good.
“They are level headed and honest and they want to improve and when you have that attitude you have a chance.”