When the campaign kicked off back in August, very few would have predicted Saturday’s clash would see second take on sixth. Brighton remain unbeaten so far this season, having not lost any of their opening 17 league fixtures.
But The Blues have also impressed so far and currently occupy the final play-off place. A fine job so far this season from their boss Gary Rowett has seen him guide the club to eight victories from 17 games.
That strong start has seen him linked with the Fulham and QPR jobs this week and Hughton knows his side will face another tricky test on Saturday.
He said: “I think you could class them as a surprise package this season.
“If you look at where they started at the start of this season - with a lot of players leaving over the previous two seasons and not having the finances that many sides do in this league.
“So I think Gary Rowett has done a really good job there. They have great consistency in the team and are not a side that changes personnel too often.
“They have had some very good results away from home this season and have hit a little bit of a blip at home.
“But they will be coming here full of confidence after an impressive result at Fulham in their last away game.”
Saturday’s clash will come just a little too soon for Andrew Crofts (hamstring) and Kazenga LuaLua (groin) but the Seagulls are set to welcome back Inigo Calderon, Uwe Hunemeier and Rohan Ince for the clash.
Hughton added: “Andrew Crofts is close but the likelihood is he will need just a little while longer in order to recover.
“Kazenga LuaLua is in a similar position to Andrew and he will be given just a little while longer in order to make sure he is okay.
“The three that I expect to be back are Inigo Calderon, Uwe Hunemeier and Rohan Ince.
“Inigo has trained all week and he was just ill last weekend, Uwe I think will be fine and we are expecting Rohan to return to training tomorrow.”
Albion are closing in on yet another record, with Queens Park Rangers’ 19-game unbeaten start the best in the history of the Championship, back in 2010, now well within their reach.
With home games against Birmingham and Charlton coming in the next two weeks, Albion could well match that achievement, however Hughton is refusing to look too far ahead and just wants his side to focus on Saturday’s game.
He said: “A lot of people may well have put the two together and will be looking at us to match that but for us it’s just about winning games.
“I would like the record to go on for as long as possible but we all know how difficult that is to carry on.
“The next game is the most important for us and if we can get a result on Saturday it keeps us in in our current position or potentially higher in the table.”
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