Brighton boss Graham Potter says injuries and sickness forced him to field a youthful side for the Carabao Cup third round loss to Aston Villa. Potter named a starting XI with an average age of just over 21 and handed 10 senior debuts to academy players during the course of the 3-1 defeat at the Amex Stadium.
After falling behind to first-half goals from Jota and Conor Hourihane, a header from 17-year-old defender Haydon Roberts briefly gave the hosts hope of forcing a penalty shoot-out, until Villa substitute Jack Grealish put the result beyond doubt.
Goalkeeper David Button, defenders Shane Duffy and Gaetan Bong and forward Aaron Connolly were the only Brighton players involved who had previously made a first-team appearance.
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Potter was asked after the game if he could have included more experience to his line-up, but revealed that was not possible due to the extent of his injury list. “Not really, not with the situation we’ve got – a couple of injuries, a couple of lads sick as well,” he said.
“So we’re just going through that little phase at the moment. “In the last round we were able to do a bit more experience and it would have been preferable to have a couple more around but it wasn’t to be at this stage. A couple were close but it just wasn’t worth the risk really.”
Injury-stricken Albion have not won a Premier League game since the opening day and face daunting upcoming fixtures against Chelsea and Tottenham.
Just to make matters worse, the treatment room got another member on Wednesday night.
Experienced centre-back Duffy added to their concerns by limping off during the second period, leaving Potter with an anxious wait to discover the extent of the problem. “It sounds like something in his calf. It’s obviously a concern, we’ll see how it settles down next 24, 48 hours,” said Potter.