Belfast Telegraph

Chris Hughton tips Jose Izquierdo to impress during second half of season

Jose Izquierdo is ready to flourish in the second half of the season after warming to the Premier League with Brighton, according to Chris Hughton.

Colombia international Izquierdo laid on both goals as Brighton drew 2-2 with Bournemouth at the Amex Stadium on New Year's Day.

The 25-year-old failed to convert two gilt-edged chances in front of goal, but boss Hughton believes the pacy forward has adapted well to England's top flight.

Brighton shelled out £13.5million to recruit Izquierdo from Club Brugge in the summer, with Hughton hopeful he can now hit his peak in the second half of the campaign.

"I certainly hope we can get the best out of him now he's settled so well," said Hughton.

"We need as many players that can bring us goals and assists as possible, and hopefully he can be right among that. I thought he was very good against Bournemouth.

"Obviously we were disappointed not to win the game, and he had put himself in a great position to put us 3-1 up in the second half.

"But probably his last touch was just a bit more awkward than he would have wanted.

"I thought it was a very good performance though, in terms of his overall contribution and the threat he gave us."

Callum Wilson's late strike earned Bournemouth a point, cancelling out Glenn Murray's goal, to leave Brighton frustrated not to claim victory.

Steve Cook's header pegged back Brighton who had led through Anthony Knockaert's opener, with both the hosts' goals teed up by Izquierdo.

"He's a workhorse, who tracks back and does extremely well for the team," said Hughton.

"He's not just about making forward runs, he defends well for us.

"He really wants to do well, he wants to adapt and he's managing that now in a league that's a completely different pace and tempo from what he'd experienced before."

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe hailed Wilson's second goal in three games as proof the former Coventry striker is finally shaking off his two long-term knee injuries.

Wilson has had to be eased back into action this term off the back of a second knee ligament problem, but Howe believes the 25-year-old could be another eyeing top form.

"He's getting that sharpness back and that comes with time," said Howe. "It's great to see him nick a couple of goals, late on as well.

"And shows that he's getting back the edge that all good strikers need, of being in the right place at the right time.

"He looked better for us the longer the game went on. So full credit to him for that, and he's a massive player for us."

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