Hughton hopes to keep star players

Brighton boss Chris Hughton says the club want to keep hold of their best players as rumours today linked defender Lewis Dunk with a summer move to West Ham.

Lewis Dunk celebrates scoring against Arsenal. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Lewis Dunk celebrates scoring against Arsenal. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Dunk, 26, has enjoyed an excellent debut season in the Premier League and was named Albion's players' player of the season last week.

The Daily Star reported today that Dunk and Swansea defender Alfie Mawson are the Hammers' top summer targets as West Ham have the second-worst defensive record in the top flight this season.

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Brighton have resisted offers for their top players in recent transfer windows and chief executive Paul Barber recently said the club want to do the same this summer.Asked about keeping hold of their key players, Hughton said: "We have a chairman that has resisted any of our players moving on in recent windows and we're hopeful exactly the same will happen again.

"For any interest in any of our players, it will be recognition of the season they've had and hopefully the season the club has had.

"But that's part and parcel of your work at a football club and it would be the same elsewhere, even regards your own recruitment.

"What you have to do is be involved with that but you have to allow your recruitment department to get on with the work they do.

"The most important part of my job is to make sure we are in this division, so they're the requirements you have to work around, but of course keeping our best players is always top of that requirement."

Hughton was then asked about how well Dunk has adapted to the Premier League and said: "I'm not surprised because I've seen his development over the last few years.

"When I came to this club, there was no doubt we had a centre-half with fabulous ability but probably the thing which has changed over the last few seasons is the fact he's played more games.

"He's very rarely injured so has had consistency with his game but the maturity he's showed, particularly after a tough season a couple of years ago where he had a couple of sendings-off.

"He's really matured as an individual and he needed to show that in his game and he has been able to do.

"Is it a surprse? No because he's always been a player who has had a big talent."