Brighton defender makes honest workload admission after draws with Marseille and Liverpool - 'Maybe we underestimated'
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Former Ajax defender Veltman is one of only a handful of Albion players with European experience, and the 31-year-old admitted the hectic fixture schedule – caused by their participation in the Europa League – is already taking its toll.
"Most of the players are getting used to it,” Veltman said. “It’s the first time the club [have been in Europe].
"The last time I played in Europe was for Ajax five years ago. It’s really tough. Maybe we underestimated a little bit just how tough it is.
"Travelling to Marseille, coming back late around 3o’clock. Back in training on Friday. It’s kind of heavy.”
Veltman was speaking after the 2-2 draw with Liverpool at the Amex – the final match before club competitions pause for an international break.
It was the seventh game Brighton have played since September 16, with a midweek match every week since the previous round of internationals.
The Seagulls dominated for most of the first half against Jurgen Klopp’s side and took the lead after 20 minutes but two poor defensive errors were punished and they were 2-1 down at half-time.
“We were the better team for 40 minutes,” Veltman said. “We didn’t deserve to be 2-1 behind.
"Especially because Liverpool didn’t have an idea to play through us. For 39/40 minutes there was nothing dangerous from their side. I think we did well but two errors.
"At the end, the chance we had for Joao [Pedro] at 3-2 was a big one. At the other end, Ryan [Gravenberch] had a big one. So it could have gone both sides. A point is probably a fair one.”
Captain Lewis Dunk was the man who salvaged a point for Roberto De Zerbi’s side – something Veltman felt was even more impressive due to signs of fatigue amongst the players.
“In the last 20 minutes we wanted to push and the gaffer was saying ‘come on, come on’,” he said.
“To be honest the energy was low. We wanted to find the next step energy wise. It was a bit low after Thursday.
“We’ve shown loads of times we have character in the team. We showed it at Marseille and now again today.
“We had an off day at Aston Villa but every game has been a show of character. Overall we want to get better and we have to get better.”
De Zerbi made six changes for the Liverpool game – taking the number of alterations the Italian has made to his starting line-ups, in seven games, to 50.
“He needs to do it,” Veltman said, when asked if the rotation system is benefitting the players.
"There have ben some injuries and small pain. You have to get through that, in the first part of the season. If you do that, you will profit later on in the season.”
Brighton, who are sixth in the Premier League – behind fifth-placed Aston Villa on goal difference – are next in action at Manchester City on Saturday, October 21.
They then face Ajax in matchday three of the Europa League on Thursday, October 26.