Roberto De Zerbi warned injury-hit Brighton must not expect an easy ride when they face wounded Dutch giants Ajax in their Europa League tie at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
The Seagulls got their Group B campaign up and running with a 2-0 win over Ajax at the Amex Stadium two weeks ago in what was the visitors’ first fixture since sacking head coach Maurice Steijn on the back of a terrible start to the new campaign.
However, following former Netherlands international John Van’t Schip’s appointment as his permanent replacement, Ajax have won back-to-back Eredivisie games to climb off the bottom of the table.
After drawing both their opening Group B games, Ajax have their sights set on a first Europa League win to keep themselves in the hunt for the knock-out stages.
Just three points currently separate all four teams, with Marseille top ahead of AEK Athens and Brighton in third.
“They are very different because they changed the coach,” De Zerbi said ahead of Thursday night’s match in Amsterdam. “I watched (the game against Heerenveen) on Sunday. They played a good game and won an important game. They scored four goals, they are different.”
De Zerbi told a press conference: “But for us, nothing changes because we have to win the game.”
Here’s a run down of who is not fit to face Ajax and who are doubtful…
1. Solly March – out
A huge blow for the Albion midfielder who suffered a serious knee injury in the 2-1 loss at Man City. Likely to be out for the season.
2. Tariq Lamptey – out
The flying full back has been ruled-out of the Ajax game. He was excellent in Marseille but suffered a muscular injury in the south of France. Was in the matchday squad at Everton but was withdrawn as he suffered a setback in the warm-up
3. Danny Welbeck – out
The experienced front runner injured his hamstring at Man City and is not expected to feature this side of Christmas
4. Julio Enciso – out
The Paraguay playmaker is ruled out with a knee injury. He has not featured since the 4-1 win at Wolves and he hopes to return in December
5. Jakub Moder – out
Closing in on a return after more than a year out with a serious knee injury. Ajax will arrive too soon but Nottingham Forest after the next international break could be a target
6. Pervis Estupinan – doubt
The Ecuador left back has not played since the 6-1 loss at Aston Villa. He is nearing full fitness and could be fit enough for a place on the bench against Ajax. A big boost.
7. Adam Lallana – doubt
Featured in the first half against Everton but was taken off at halftime. It was his first outing since he injured himself having played the last 12 minutes of the Carabao Cup at Chelsea. Unlikely to start but could be in the matchday squad
8. Adam Webster – doubt
Played the full 90 against Fulham but then missed out at Everton. His minutes are being carefully managed but should be fit enough for the bench with van Hecke likely to start alongside Dunk at centre back
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