'For a long time' - Roberto De Zerbi confirms Brighton fans' worst fears after key man stretchered off against Manchester City
and live on Freeview channel 276
Albion succumbed to a 2-1 defeat away at the Etihad in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon thanks to first half goals from Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland.
The Seagulls came out fighting in the second half which saw subtitute Ansu Fati pull one back in the 75th minute, but it was too little too late for De Zerbi's men.
De Zerbi said the 'worst news' is that Solly March and Danny Welbeck picked up injuries ahead of a tricky and busy fixture schedule in the Premier League and Europa League, where they face Ajax, Fulham, Everton, Ajax and Sheffield United before mid-November.
March, who has been Brighton’s emergency left-back, had to be stretchered off the pitch after suffering a serious-looking ankle injury.
“I think we can lose Solly March for a long time and Welbeck, I don't know, it's a muscular problem,” De Zerbi said.
"This season is different, we are playing a different sport this season. We are losing too many players. I think we are not ready to compete in this competition, and we are adapting.
"It's tough because we play against Ajax – a crucial game – without Estupinan, Lamptey, March, Welbeck, Julio Enciso.
"Dunk, Adingra, Gross, Gilmour, Ferguson. They played in the national team.
"We have to adapt. We are not used to playing so many games.
"We are competing in Europe for the first time in our life, and for it I am positive. I have a big, big confidence in my players."
De Zerbi went on to criticise his side's first half performance against City, saying they were too 'timido', meaning shy.
Speaking during his post-match press conference, the Italian said: "It's a sad day if we play like we did in the first half, no? Shy. I want to play with personality. Yes we can lose, it's not a problem if we lose 6-1.
"I'm frustrated because we lost the first half and we lost the possibility to play like Brighton with our quality, with our DNA."
However, De Zerbi was impressed with the way his side played with 'more courage, energy and personality' in the second half, taking the game to City.
He added: "In the second half we played better. We kept order on the pitch, especially without the ball. I think we had two or three chances to score.
"We pressed better, stronger in the second half. We were afraid [in the first half]."
City's 21-year-old winger Jeremy Doku had a sensational game out on the left wing up against Brighton's 37-year-old James Milner at right back, who was returning from injury and subbed off at half-time for Joel Veltman.
De Zerbi defended Milner in the post-match press conference after he was asked why the former Manchester City and Liverpool man was brought back into the side.
"We need Milner,” he said. “We need him today and the next games in the future on Thursdays/Sundays.
"The problem in the first half was not Milner, we gave too much time to City's defenders and midfielders to find Doku.
"It's not the problem of Milner. I changed it half time because he couldn't play more than 55-60 minutes."