Seagulls boss defends cup rotation
Brighton boss Chris Hughton says changes to his team for the FA Cup are not purely about keeping key players fresh.
Hughton, who made eight changes for the third-round win at Bournemouth earlier this month, plans to rotate his squad again at home to Championship club West Brom on Saturday.
While the Seagulls boss is keen to progress, he admits top-flight survival remains his priority and feels cup games provide an ideal opportunity to satisfy players on the periphery of the first team.
Brighton, who travel to relegation-threatened Fulham in the league on Tuesday evening, go into the fourth-round tie against the Baggies seven points above the drop zone.
"There will always be that balance and as a manager you have to make decisions, and these are big decisions," said Hughton about his team selection.
"For where we are at the moment, it's still very much about stability in the league and picking up league results.
"When you change a team and you use your squad, it's not always just about making sure you don't pick up injuries because you know you've got a game on Tuesday night.
"It's about the squad and players that are not in the team at the moment, that are training hard every day.
"There is a big value for the squad to keep them involved and for them to be playing some games.
"You would have players that are very, very close - maybe been on the bench but haven't played so much - that would be thinking, 'if I can't play a cup game on a Saturday against so-and-so, then it's going to be very difficult for me'."
Brighton, FA Cup finalists in 1983, reached the quarter-finals last year, where they were beaten by eventual runners-up Manchester United.
Nick Harris is a long-standing journalist who specialises in football and rugby league. An avid golfer, Nick also follows the major boxing fights closely.