Brighton boss Chris Hughton has called on his players to tackle the final seven Premier League games with the same spirit shown in the narrow FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City.
Hughton has been quick to throw the focus back on to league matters after the disappointment of the 1-0 loss at Wembley last weekend.
Brighton host Bournemouth on Saturday, with both sides not yet safe in the battle for top-flight survival, with the Seagulls in particular just five points above the relegation zone.
Hughton is hoping the confidence from running title-challengers City close can stand them in good stead as the league campaign draws to a conclusion.
“There is the disappointment of not going through but the biggest thing we got out of it was a performance that hasn’t done us any harm,” said Hughton.
“We have to take that into this final group of league matches. That’s the aim.”
Hughton feels earning the right to stay among the elite for another season would represent continued progress.
“It would be just as big of an achievement as last season to stay in this division for another year because we are still a developing club,” he said at a press conference reported by the club.
“We are still learning about the division and the highs and lows which come with that.”
Brighton have lost their last two league games – at home to fellow relegation-battlers Southampton and then 3-0 at Chelsea.
While Bournemouth have also been beaten in their last two matches, they are still glancing over their shoulder as they are 10 points above the drop zone.
Hughton, though, has plenty of time for what Eddie Howe has achieved at a club that not so long ago were, like Brighton, facing an uncertain future amid financial problems.
“For any manager to do what he’s done with what he’s had to work with is nothing but admirable,” he said.
“They’ve earned the right to be in this division – they have made additions, but the bulk of the players have come up through the leagues.
“It’s his club as such. Apart from a short period at Burnley he’s been there a long time and you can’t underestimate the work he’s done there.”
With a home match against Cardiff on Tuesday night, Brighton defender Shane Duffy knows what is at stake.
“We have two big games coming up, and we have to take advantage of being at home and getting results on the board against two teams that are around us,” Duffy said on the Brighton website.”
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