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Brighton haven’t downed tools, insists Hughton

Chris Hughton has disputed Martin Keown’s suggestion that Brighton’s players have “downed tools” and are relying on results elsewhere to avoid Premier League relegation.

Pundit Keown accused Albion of lacking effort during their recent run of poor form while speaking on Sunday evening’s Match of the Day 2.

The struggling Seagulls have failed to score during a five-match winless streak and sit just three points above 18th-placed Cardiff.

Asked whether he agreed with the comments of former Arsenal and England defender Keown, Albion boss Hughton said: “No, I certainly wouldn’t. As with all pundits it’s their job and responsibility to say what they think, but certainly no.

“And I don’t think anybody could accuse a group of players at Wolves on Saturday (a 0-0 draw) of it not meaning enough or downing tools. Absolutely that’s not the case.

“We are a team of our level playing in the Premier League and up until probably the last month or so we’ve been in a decent enough position in the league.

“Probably our poorest period came at the worst time. But that happens when you’re playing in a division as difficult as this division and when you are the level of club that we are.

“We have to find formulas and pull out results to get the points that we need.”

Saturday’s battling stalemate at Molineux halted a run of four successive top-flight defeats for Brighton.

Cardiff’s 2-0 loss to title-chasing Liverpool on Sunday means the Seagulls retain a three-point cushion on their rivals, in addition to a vastly superior goal difference and a game in hand.

However, Albion have taken just nine points from a possible 42 in 2019 and Hughton acknowledges they must take responsibility for their failings.

“You have to accept whatever criticism there is,” he said.

“The biggest thing from the players and the response I felt on Saturday was their own feelings that we’d let ourselves down in the games that people would have expected us to do better in, particularly the home games.

“As a team we’ve felt we haven’t been good enough and we’ve had to react to that.”

Brighton’s game in hand comes on Tuesday evening and will be a first visit to Tottenham’s new 62,000-capacity stadium for former Spurs player and coach Hughton.

The 60-year-old, who won two FA Cups and the UEFA Cup with the London club during his playing career, admits his enjoyment of the occasion will be dependent on his team’s display.

“I was there all in all for 27 years and I have lots of memories as a player and as a coach,” said Hughton.

“I haven’t been (to the new stadium). Of course, at one stage this looked like it was going to be the first fixture there but because of our exploits in the cup that wasn’t the case.

“I’m looking forward to going there. How much I’ll enjoy it will be down to the performance the team put in but I’m hoping I can enjoy it.”

Midfielder Davy Propper, who was injured at Wolves, and suspended winger Anthony Knockaert will be absent.