Stephens calls on Brighton players to stand up and be counted

Dale Stephens has called on Brighton to stand up and be counted after they were plunged into the thick of the relegation battle.

The Seagulls slumped to a shocking 5-0 home defeat by Bournemouth on Saturday and face Cardiff on Tuesday night knowing another loss would leave Neil Warnock’s side, who lie 18th, just two points behind them.

Midfielder Stephens told the club website: “We don’t use excuses. We’ve prided ourselves on hard work and preparation for two years in the Premier League, but that was nowhere near it.

“But we move on and we’ve got a game on Tuesday, and what a massive game it is.

“We’re in a position where it’s still in our hands, we can still do something about it, which is a fortunate position to be in.

“The game against Cardiff was massive whatever the outcome against Bournemouth. Obviously, a result would have lifted the pressure slightly but we’ve got to stand up and be counted.”

Goals from Dan Gosling, Ryan Fraser, David Brooks, Callum Wilson and Junior Stanislas earned Bournemouth their biggest away win in the Premier League.

Brighton’s cause was not helped by a red card for Anthony Knockaert after the winger chopped down Adam Smith.

“Whether it’s a red card or not, the referee’s made a decision and he’s put himself in that position where he’s allowed the referee to (send him off). He’s disappointed,” added Stephens.

“We need our best players on the pitch and he’s one of them. He’s apologised. We were getting beaten at the time, frustrations were high and he’ll make sure he won’t do it again.”

Victory took Bournemouth through the 40-point mark and boss Eddie Howe wants a strong finish to the campaign.

“We’ve been stretched with injuries and it’s halted our progress, but we came through it and we now want to finish the season on a high,” he said.

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