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Hughton's men face two vital fixtures in bid for survival

HOPEFUL: Chris Hughton

CHRIS HUGHTON has called on his Brighton & Hove Albion squad to build on their positive first-half of the season ahead of two crucial six-pointers. After his side left London in a respectable 12th place after their 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on Boxing Day Hughton remained upbeat.

The pressure is on his team as the Seagulls look to retain their Premier League status at the first attempt. He explained: “I want them [the players] to feel proud of where we are and what we've achieved so far, but frustrated because we could've done better. That's about us trying to improve the team as much as possible. Yes, we would've been happy at the start to be where we are, but I think we could've done better. And that's what you want the players to think about because in the second half of the season, it won't get easier. If anything, it'll get harder.”

Their next game sees them travel to his former club Newcastle United on December 30, before Bournemouth visit the Amex Stadium on New Year's Day. The Geordies did the double over Brighton last season, on the way to both teams achieving automatic promotion to the top flight but Hughton’s men won at home in September.

He added: “Both are very difficult games. The turnaround between Newcastle and Bournemouth is very quick so recovery is a very important part of what we do over the next few days.
There will always be a little bit more pressure to get points at home. That's our session so far and I don't see anything different in the second half.”

Taking all six points from the next two games would give the club 27, just 13 away from the elusive 40 that tends to signal safety in the top flight. If the Seagulls needed just 13 points from their remaining 16 games, it would definitely make the second half the season feel a lot easier.

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