Npower Championship promotion contenders: Brighton

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Brighton & Hove Albion have extra reason to be looking forward to the start of the campaign as 2011-12 marks the first year in the club's impressive new Amex Stadium.

Following last season's exploits that led the Seagulls to the Npower League One title, Gus Poyet's side go into the Championship full of renewed hope and optimism for what lies ahead.

One player not looking to dwell on the niceties that come with the opening of a new home is Gary Dicker, who says the players must adapt quickly to their new surroundings in order to continue pushing in the right direction.

"It's a big pitch," the 25-year-old confirmed. "We have to get used to playing here when it is full. We need to punish teams when we have the ball. If we can make this place hard to play in for other teams, it will be a massive thing for us.

"I've played at Wembley before, but this pitch feels bigger - it is beautiful to play on."

Brighton could be regarded as having an outside chance for back-to-back promotions, but if one thing is certain it's that Poyet has got the Seagull's back playing football the right way.



The headline summer signing of Craig Mackail-Smith will undoubtedly add extra firepower to their ranks, but a realistic target of consolidation and a top half finish will ensure the feel-good factor remains at Brighton for another season at least.

Scotland international Mackail-Smith, however, will miss the club’s Carling Cup tie with Gillingham next week because of his latest call-up to the national squad – much to the annoyance of manager Gus Poyet.

The Brighton boss said: “We will always respect players who want to play for their countries so we won't stop him from going. Saying that, it's not very clever when you put an international game in the middle of a week when you have a cup game.

"This is Scotland, not Australia or Argentina. I think they knew from two months ago that it was a Carling Cup week and there are a few Scottish players in England.

"I am not going to fight the Scottish FA over it. I am going to give him the freedom to go. I loved playing for Uruguay. I will never stop a player playing for their national team.

"I am very pleased for Craig and I would, of course, like him to play. It would be very disappointing if he goes to Scotland, misses the Gillingham game and doesn't play, so it's up to the manager."

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Gary Dicker
Brighton & Hove Albion

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