Belfast Telegraph

Hughton pondering keeper question ahead of Everton clash

Ryan has played all 57 of Albion’s Premier League games.

Mat Ryan is at the Asian Cup with Australia (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Mat Ryan is at the Asian Cup with Australia (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Brighton boss Chris Hughton has yet to decide who will be his number one goalkeeper for the next month in the absence of first-choice regular Mat Ryan.

Australia international Ryan is the only keeper to play in the Premier League for Albion, having been ever-present since joining from Valencia in June 2017 following the club’s promotion.

But the 26-year-old, who made a couple of outstanding saves in the Boxing Day draw with Arsenal, is currently unavailable after joining his country’s squad for the Asian Cup, which runs from January 5 to February 1.

Summer signings David Button and Jason Steele are the options available to Hughton, with the manager still making his mind up ahead of Saturday’s home game with Everton.

“I’ll make the decision as to who replaces Maty,” said Hughton at his pre-match press conference.

“There’s nothing that happens in the goalkeeping department that I don’t know about.

“I want a tough decision and both keepers have worked really hard, pushing Maty to his high levels.”

Former Fulham keeper Button, whose action this term has been restricted to one Carabao Cup tie, appears to be the favourite having been on the bench against the Gunners.

His most recent league appearance came more than a year ago, a 3-1 Sky Bet Championship defeat for the Cottagers at Brentford on December 2 2017.

Steele, meanwhile, was relegated to League One with Sunderland last season and has not played a first-team game since May.

The Seagulls will, however, be boosted by the return of defender Lewis Dunk following a one-match ban.

Albion have gone four top-flight matches without victory, with Hughton unable to select his preferred centre-back partnership of England international Dunk and Shane Duffy during that period because of suspensions.

Nigeria international Leon Balogun, who has deputised, is expected to make way against Marco Silva’s Toffees.

“The most important thing is they are all available. We are going through a series of games now in a short period of time,” said Hughton, according to the Argus.

“It’s about having everybody available. We have options at centre-half which is important for us.”

Everton’s visit to the Amex Stadium comes two days before Hughton is due to celebrate his fourth anniversary as manager.

The 60-year-old has established Albion as a top-flight club in that time after guiding them to promotion.

“I came into a great club here nearly four years ago – there’s a lot of good people in place,” he said.

“In this day and age four years in a manager’s role is quite uncommon – especially in this league.

“It’s difficult but all those good things here have contributed.”

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who is on international duty with Iran having been sidelined with a hamstring problem, remains unavailable, along with fellow winger Jose Izquierdo (knee).



From Belfast Telegraph