Brighton boss Graham Potter has urged his international stars not to allow the prospect of featuring at the winter World Cup to become detrimental to their Premier League form.
Albion, who travel to West Ham on Sunday, have started the season strongly with four points from two games on the back of a maiden top-half finish last term.
Ecuador left-back Pervis Estupinan this week increased the number of Qatar hopefuls in the Seagulls’ squad, joining the likes of compatriots Moises Caicedo and Jeremy Sarmiento, Spain goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, Argentina midfielder Alexis Mac Allister and Belgium forward Leandro Trossard.
While Potter understands the hype around the World Cup, which begins in three months’ time, he has advised his players to concentrate on club matters.
“It’s only my opinion but a huge mistake they would make would be to think too far ahead in terms of the World Cup; Premier League matches is what’s going to get you there,” he said.
“So focus on the now, be in the moment.
“It’s a massive thing, there’s no denying it, it’s the World Cup and of course it influences or affects people.
“But for our boys they’re very focused, very intelligent in terms of knowing what’s the best way I can get there.
“And a good way is by really focusing on the now, helping us win football matches and performing well as a team.”
Netherlands defender Joel Veltman, Poland pair Jakub Moder and Kacper Kozlowski, Ghana hopeful Tariq Lamptey and Japan midfielder Kaoru Mitoma will also be eyeing World Cup involvement.
Tuesday’s arrival of Estupinan for a reported £16million from Villarreal plugs the gap left by Marc Cucurella’s £60m exit to Chelsea while boosting Brighton’s South American contingent to six.
Potter, who also has Colombia midfielder Steven Alzate and Paraguay forward Julio Enciso in his squad, hopes the situation can be beneficial but is wary of causing potential division in the camp.
“There’s a positive side to that, which is they can refer back to their homeland and speak the same language, but at the same time you’ve got to make sure there isn’t a little South American clique,” he said.
“That’s the balance, but all the guys are conscious of that. At the moment it’s a nice balance, you have to respect the fact that there are people from the same sort of area and that’s nice.
“Other guys can benefit from that as well because they can understand a bit more about South American culture.”
Brighton have never lost a Premier League fixture against West Ham, winning four and drawing six of the 10 previous meetings.
Potter said: “In my time, we’ve only won one game against West Ham, so that doesn’t feel like such a great record! We’ve had a lot of draws.
“I’ve got a huge respect and admiration for David Moyes and the job that he has done there and as a man I have a lot of time for him.
“It’s an experienced squad with an experienced manager, so we’re ready for a tough game.”
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