Billy Gilmour surprise absence explained for Brighton at Marseille

Billy Gilmour was a notable absentee as Roberto De Zerbi named his starting XI to face Marseille in the Europa League
Billy Gilmour of Brighton is on the bench for the Europa League clash in MarseilleBilly Gilmour of Brighton is on the bench for the Europa League clash in Marseille
Billy Gilmour of Brighton is on the bench for the Europa League clash in Marseille

It’s a historic day for Brighton as the embark on their first ever Europa League away day but Roberto De Zerbi’s team are also desperate for three points to kick-start their Group B campaign.

The Albion lost their first group match 3-2 to AEK Athens at the Amex Stadium two weeks ago and defeat in the south of France would severely dent their chances of progressing to the knock-out stages.

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Brighton are sixth in the Premier League but De Zerbi’s team have not been at their fluent best of late. They lost 1-0 to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup in midweek and were then hammered 6-1 last Saturday at Aston Villa.

There were a number of poor displays and the midfield – following the exits of Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister – has become a problem area as De Zerbi searches for his ideal combination.

Gilmour and teenager Jack Hinshelwood started at Viila but Gilmour seems to have paid the price as he drops to bench in Marseille. Pascal Gross returns from injury and he will line-up alongside Mo Dahoud – who was on the bench at Villa Park.

De Zerbi said: “Dahoud is the same (important). He is playing with Pascal today but Billy Gilmour as well is another important player.”

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It’s five changes in total for the Albion as Barcelona loan ace Ansu Fati starts in the No 10 role, while Jan Paul van Hecke, Tariq Lamptey, Gross and Dahoud all come in.

Lewis Dunk makes his Europa League debut, having missed the loss to AEK with injury.

Brighton XI: Steele, Lamptey, van Hecke, Dunk, Veltman; Dahoud, Gross; March, Mitoma, Fati; Welbeck. Subs: Verbruggen, Igor, Webster, Joao Pedro, Gilmour, Baleba, Adingra, Ferguson, McGill, Buonanotte, Hinshelwood.

Marseille XI: Pau Lopez, Clauss, Mbemba, Balerdi, Murillo, Rongier, Veretout, Ndiaye, Harit, Correa, Aubameyang. Subs: Ngapandouetnbu, Ounahi, Vitor Oliveira, Renan Lodi, Meite, Sarr, Nadir, Blanco, Soglo, Tunkadi, Caprice.