Carabao Cup / Brighton vs Aston Villa: Injuries pile up as NINE players are out for Albion
Graham Potter believes he will learn more about the strength of his squad as they welcome Aston Villa to the Amex tonight in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
While it may not quite be at crisis levels just yet, Brighton do have nine senior members of the squad unavailable or highly doubtful for tonight’s clash.
Glenn Murray (ankle), Neal Maupay (knee), Leandro Trossard (groin), Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Leon Balogun and long-term long-term absentee Jose Izquierdo (knee) are all ruled out while concerns remain over Solly March (hamstring), Bernardo and Ezequiel Schelotto (knee).
Potter will be forced to shuffle his squad but the head coach will also be keen to rest players ahead of Saturday’s Premier League fixture at Chelsea.
“Yes we are (digging deep). We’re just at the start of working with the group, and that’s the under-23s as well and the whole playing staff here, so the more information we get the better for us – and that’s how we shall look at this game,” said the Albion head coach..
“It’s an opportunity to look at the group in its entirety and guys who have not had as much game time as they would like will get the opportunity.
“We can also look at some younger players as well to see how they cope in that type of environment against what I think will be a strong Aston Villa side.
“Of course, it’s a game you want to win but at the same time we’re in a bit of a heavy period as well with a couple of injuries so we just need to look after the group and make sure we select the right team to be as competitive as we can.”
Potter admits his main priority is the Premier League but he stressed the importance of the Carabao Cup and the role it played in helping to integrate young players Steven Alzate and Aaron Connolly into the first team.
Both performed well in the previous round with Connolly on target in the 2-1 triumph at Bristol Rovers, while Alzate claimed an assist.
He said: “Steven Alazate benefited from that game, so did Aaron Connolly, and we enjoyed the win.
“Is it the same as the Premier League? No. I’d be lying if I said that but at the same time it is where we can learn a lot about the group.”
Connolly looks set to lead the line against Villa but Alzate is not expected to start following his man of the match performance at Newcastle last Saturday.
Villa, who are third bottom in the Premier League table, arrive having thumped League Two Crewe Alexandra 6-1 in the previous round last month.
Their manager Dean Smith is also expected to rotate his squad following their 3-2 Premier League loss at 10-man Arsenal last weekend. Young striker Keinan Davis is expected to start up front for Villa. John McGinn will be rested.