Brighton boss Chris Hughton has dismissed suggestions that fellow strugglers Huddersfield and Fulham are already condemned to Premier League relegation.
Bottom club Huddersfield are 13 points adrift of safety with 10 games remaining, while the Cottagers, who sacked manager Claudio Ranieri on Thursday, are three points better off.
After beating Fulham in midweek, Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl implied the bottom two clubs could not recover, leaving “five or six” teams competing to avoid 18th place.
But Hughton, whose side sit two points above the drop zone ahead of Saturday’s visit of Huddersfield, feels it is wrong to write them off.
“I certainly wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say that anybody has gone,” said Hughton.
“I think it’s very unfair on the two teams that are down there to say that.
“I think everybody is fighting. I think there are a few other clubs that can get sucked into that.
“We are one team that are amongst a group of teams that if we don’t get the results very much could fall into that.”
Huddersfield, who were promoted alongside Brighton in 2017, recorded an overdue victory by beating Wolves on Tuesday evening.
It was a first success for new Terriers manager Jan Siewert and ended a 14-game winless run in the league which began at home to Albion on December 1.
Hughton thinks the West Yorkshire club’s struggles are understandable and believes they will need to recreate the spirit shown at the end of last season under David Wagner to pull off another great escape.
“It shows how difficult it is for any team that comes into the division, so it doesn’t surprise me,” said Hughton.
“You’re up against sides that have spent a lot of money and have more experience in this league.
“But I thought they were brilliant towards the end of last season and for where they are at this moment they’ll need that again.
“They’re on the back of a result which lifted them and they’ll be looking for the same again.”
After being in the relative comfort of mid-table for a number of weeks, Brighton’s own league position has become concerning.
The Seagulls are the only club in England’s top four divisions without a league victory in 2019 and could end the weekend in the bottom three.
Hughton, who wants his team to tighten up defensively, fears slipping into the drop zone may have a detrimental impact on the mentality of his squad.
“Psychologically it gives you a big boost not to be in that bottom three,” he said.
“There are still plenty of games to go and there will be lots of twists and turns in the positioning in that bottom group.
“Sometimes it’s about going back to basics but without losing what we have offensively because you only win games by scoring goals.
“But, yes, I think we have to get back to thinking about keeping clean sheets.”
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