Hughton issues Murray challenge

Brighton & Hove Albion

Chris Hughton has told Glenn Murray he will keep his starting place ahead of Brighton's new signings if he continues scoring goals.

The Seagulls 10-goal top-scorer has seen his starting place come under threat following the £14million club record transfer of Jurgen Locadia and the loan arrival of former Albion striker Leonardo Ulloa.

The 34-year-old has responded to the increased competition in fine style, scoring in each of his last three appearances to boost Brighton’s survival hopes and book their place in the FA Cup fifth round.

And Hughton, who favours playing a lone central striker, admitted he would be happy if Murray continues to keep the new men waiting in the wings.

“If you could guarantee me that anybody, or Glenn, can stay in the team and score the goals to make sure we stay in this division then of course I would absolutely take that,” said Hughton ahead of Saturday’s trip to fellow strugglers Stoke.

“We brought in the competition we have to give us options but players are going to be disappointed.

“I can’t play them all, and that is something they have to accept – and should gladly accept – if it sees us getting enough goals and points to make sure we’re safe.”

Murray has 10 for the season in all competitions having struck five times in his previous seven games.

Ulloa, borrowed from Leicester until the end of the season, has come off the bench to replace him in the last two, while Dutch forward Locadia, signed from PSV Eindhoven, is now ready to make his debut after overcoming a hamstring problem.

Hughton does not believe Murray’s improved form is linked to the arrival of the new recruits.

“He’s one of those number nines who reads the game very well, is in the right place at the right time and has the composure when he gets into those areas,” he added. “You all know that Glenn has never been blessed with blistering pace, but he has composure.

“I don’t necessarily believe that us bringing in other players has lifted Glenn’s level. But what it does is give us options and you want players to respond to that.”

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