Brighton & Hove Albion manager, Chris Hughton has explained the reason Nigeria defender Leon Balogun has been restricted to only four English Premier League appearances since he joined the Seagulls on a free from FSV Mainz 05 in the summer, reports Completesportsnigeria.com.
Hughton who led his side to back to back wins over Huddersfield Town and Crystal Palace in the EPL reveals that the 30-year-old Super Eagles defender is third in the pecking order of the centre-halves at the club.
Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk have been the first choice partners for Hughton this season, but he urges Balogun to always take his chance when they come his ways.
“Leon [Balogun] is an experienced player who can step into the side – he played against Manchester United and he trains very well all the time,” Hughton said during his pre-match conference ahead of his side’s trip to Burnley on Saturday.
“The reason for that is because he’s behind two very consistently performing players, but he knows that he has to keep applying himself when circumstances like this one arise and opportunities come up.
Balogun came off the bench to score with his first kick as the Seagulls beat Crystal Palace 3-2 in midweek. He is poised to make his second start for the club when they face Burnley.
Balogun’s goal against Crystal Place was the second earliest goal by any Albion substitute player.
Hughton also insists his side’s objectives haven’t altered despite the Seagulls move into the top half of the Premier League, but warns against getting carried away.
“My focus hasn’t changed, irrespective of any league position. Once you start changing your focus and thinking you’re better than you are, then there can be a rude awakening around the corner.
“For a side like ourselves who’ve won some matches on the spin like we have, you can also see it go the other way.
“My focus isn’t on our league position, what I do think is about making sure we distance ourselves from the teams below us – we just want to improve both as a team and a club while gaining as many points as possible.”
On his thoughts on this Saturday’s opponents, Burnley Hughton said: “They [Burnley] did very well last season but haven’t hit those heights this year – that’s just the nature of the division, but there’s no doubt their exploits last season have raised the expectations.
“To have to play in Europe when you’re not a top-six side is always going to be difficult given the number of matches and their squad size.”
“I thought they were good on Wednesday against Liverpool and they’ve not changed much since last year – at the moment things are going against them, but they’re a strong side at home and a team who are more than capable of putting a good run of results together.”
By Johnny Edward