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Graham Potter wants Brighton to be ‘smart, brave and alert’ at Crystal Palace

Albion travel to Selhurst Park on the back of three successive defeats in all competitions.

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Brighton boss Graham Potter is preparing for a derby clash with Crystal Palace (Adam Davy/PA)

Brighton boss Graham Potter is preparing for a derby clash with Crystal Palace (Adam Davy/PA)

Brighton boss Graham Potter is preparing for a derby clash with Crystal Palace (Adam Davy/PA)

Graham Potter believes his youthful Brighton side need to be “smart, brave and alert” to secure bragging rights against experienced rivals Crystal Palace.

Albion have, on average, fielded the youngest starting XI in the opening four fixtures of the new Premier League season, while Palace’s team has been the oldest.

The Seagulls face a derby clash with Roy Hodgson’s seasoned Eagles on Sunday afternoon at Selhurst Park.

Brighton boss Potter acknowledges that inexperienced players are more prone to errors and inconsistent displays but is content to persist with his policy of blooding youngsters.

“Age in itself doesn’t solve your problems, doesn’t win you games. In theory it (selecting younger players) sounds nice, in theory it’s what people want to do, but there is a lot of work to go in there,” said Potter.

“Young players are, in some ways, really good because they’ve got no fear and they want to go and do exactly what they think they can and there’s a freshness.

“At the same time, there is also a process you have to go through because they will make mistakes or their performance level will be a little bit inconsistent.

“Playing against Crystal Palace with the quality they have has problems, but that’s the same in every Premier League game.

“They’ve got a good experience. Roy has got them organised. They have got experienced professionals that have had really, really good careers.

“We need to be smart, we need to be brave, we need to be always alert.

“If you drop your focus and concentration at any point in this league, whoever you play against, you can be in trouble.”

The average age of Albion’s starting XI this term currently stands at 24.9 years, while Palace’s is around 29.3.

Potter significantly reduced the experience of his squad during the latest transfer window, allowing the likes of Shane Duffy, Martin Montoya, Dale Stephens, Aaron Mooy and Glenn Murray to depart the Amex Stadium.

Defenders Tariq Lamptey and Ben White, midfielder Steven Alzate, and forward Aaron Connolly are among the younger players to have benefitted from the approach.

There will also be an age disparity in the dugout this weekend, with 73-year-old Hodgson the division’s oldest boss and Potter among the younger managers.

The 45-year-old is full of admiration for well-travelled former England manager Hodgson.

“Roy has class. I think he’s a football man, whenever he speaks I like to listen to him. He talks sense, knows the game. His career has been amazing,” said Potter.

“He’s respected across Europe with the type of career he’s had, had different experiences, different life experiences.

“He’s someone you should appreciate because he’s had a fantastic career.”

Albion travel to south-east London with just three points from a possible 12.

Before the international break, the Sussex club lost to Manchester United in the league and Carabao Cup, before being beaten at high-flying Everton.

Potter insists morale remains high and has urged his players to shrug off recent setbacks.

“We’re feeling positive but we’re also disappointed because we haven’t got the points that we’d like,” said Potter.

“But I think we also have to look at who we’ve played and also try to work out things we’ve done well and focus on the things we can improve. And, clearly, there are a few of those things.

“You can have some defeats along the way and you’ve just go to dust yourself down, prepare for the next one, and that’s what we have been trying to do.”

PA