Brighton & Hove Albion return to the continental scene looking to punch their ticket to the Europa League knockout round as they take on AEK Athens in Greece tomorrow.
The Seagulls travel to the Greek capital knowing a point will be enough to seal a spot in the knockout phase, furthering their continental dream.
However, they’ve been rocked with a couple of fresh injury setbacks ahead of the crunch contest, with Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi confirming that Tariq Lamptey and Ansu Fati are out of contention.
Both players picked up what De Zerbi has described as long-term injuries in the dramatic 3-2 Premier League victory over Nottingham Forest last weekend.
Fati was the first to exit the pitch in the Forest clash, with Joao Pedro taking his place in the 21st minute before Jack Hinshelwood replaced Lamptey just after the half-hour mark.
Fati and Lamptey are the latest to join Brighton’s growing list of absentees, which includes Kaoru Mitoma, Danny Welbeck, Julio Enciso, Pervis Estupinan, Solly March, and Adam Webster.
“Ansu [Fati] and [Tariq] Lamptey are both injured,” De Zerbi said in his pre-match press conference. “We have lost them for a long time I think.
“But the focus is on the players who can play tomorrow. We will have to compete. I don’t know if we will win, but we will fight to win the game for sure.”
Brighton only need a point to advance to the next round, and De Zerbi has a couple of options to replace the injured duo in tomorrow’s starting XI.
The Italian may be tempted to shuffle the pack with a weekend clash against Chelsea on the horizon, but he’ll back even a rotated side to get the job done in Greece.
With Fati sidelined and Mitoma a doubt, Simon Adingra could slot in at left wing with Facundo Buonanotte deployed on the other flank in place of March.
Pascal Gross’ incredible versatility could see him deployed at left back to cover for the injured Lamptey, but you’d expect him to impact the game nonetheless, having provided two assists in the win over Forest.
Predicted Brighton line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Jason Steele; Joel Veltman, Jan Paul van Hecke, Lewis Dunk, Pascal Gross; Mahmoud Dahoud, Carlos Baleba; Simon Adingra, Joao Pedro, Facundo Buonanotte; Evan Ferguson.
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