Johnny Cantor: What's best for Albion's fringe players when the transfer window opens?
The shoots are there. The tinsel is in the shops, the adverts are on TV (we're not quite there yet with the songs on the radio!) but Christmas is on its way.
It is a busy time for many families and the football world is as busy as ever, especially in the Premier League. There are ten games in 37 days from the end of November to January 1.
January will be a time for some to detox but for many footballers it will be a time of change. As the transfer window opens, players will come in and go out of clubs on loan or permanently right across the land.
Some will be looking for a move after very little game time this season. Fringe players may want to prove themselves at their current club as FA Cup opportunities present themselves but not only is there a dilemma for the players, there are decisions to be made by the clubs.
There is still plenty of time to go but the managers will already have an idea of what they want, even if they don’t know what they will get! After so many matches, bosses are keen to rest key individuals for the FA Cup but it could be just one game.
So what’s best for Albion players like Jamie Murphy, Jiri Skalak, Uwe Hunemeier and Connor Goldson? The manager has to have cover for potential injuries but the players want to play. The Seagulls managed to get through the last few months without a recognised back-up central midfielder or striker but it was touch and go.
Sam Baldock and Beram Kayal are getting time with the under-23s but these four key players could end up being peripheral figures. Goldson is an undoubted talent and has been on the bench in recent weeks but is unlikely to displace Lewis Dunk or Shane Duffy.
He was pencilled in for a loan to Ipswich and it seems the club continue to eye more strength at the back from abroad. Hunemeier has been dependable but is yet to be tested in the Premier League.
I’m sure Murphy and Skalak want to taste top-flight football but there are three wingers Anthony Knockaert, Jose Izqueirdo and Solly March ahead of them.
Much will depend on the club’s investment in January. Will they look to consolidate with extra resources or will they rely on the squad that has served them well so far?
Chairman Tony Bloom has said he doesn’t think you get value for money halfway through the season but in the past has tempted players such as Knockaert to the club in January.
Some players leave on loan never to return, others come back to flourish. We will see who stays and who goes but results over the next month and the owner’s strategy in the transfer window are likely to determine where these players end up in the early part of 2018.
Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.