Brighton midfielder feels the squad has more belief this year
Midfielder Dale Stephens feels there is more belief in Albion's squad this year as they head into their second Premier League season.
The Seagulls finished 15th in their first campaign back in the top flight of English football for 34 years and begin the new season away to Watford on Saturday.
Stephens, 29, says the squad feel like they belong in the Premier League now: “I think we’ve got more belief in the squad this time ahead of the new season.
“Your first season can sometimes be a bit of an unknown, but we’ve had a good year and confidence is high that we can improve on what we did last year.
“Personally, I feel like I’ll be better this season having had the experience of playing against the top players in Europe and the world.
“It’s made me a better player and I’m excited to do it again this year – we have to improve from last season and we know we belong at this level now.”
Albion have made eight signings this summer, with Mali international Yves Bissouma joining from Lille and adding to the competition for places in central midfield.
Stephens played alongside Davy Propper in the middle of the park last year and Bissouma will also battle it out for a starting spot with Beram Kayal.
Stephens said: “We’ve got good competition in the centre of midfield, Yves is an exciting talent and Beram is fit from the off this year so it’s good for all of us.
“It gives us extra flexibility and that’s something you need in the team – we’ve played that way for a number of years now but it’s also important that we can adapt to different situations too.”