Brighton boss Hughton delighted to have ‘tough’ Dunk back

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Brighton boss Chris Hughton has praised Lewis Dunk’s desire to overcome injury after the defender returned from an ankle problem in under two weeks.

Centre-back Dunk missed last weekend’s loss at Liverpool after limping off during the win over Manchester United a fortnight ago.

The influential 26-year-old was a major doubt for Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Fulham, but managed to play the full 90 minutes, captaining the side.

Despite Dunk being at fault for the Cottagers’ second goal, Albion boss Hughton was relieved to have him available again.

“Delighted to have him back. He’s a very tough individual and that’s why he was able to get back in this period of time,” said Hughton.

“The injury, thankfully, wasn’t as bad as we thought it first might have been.

“He’s somebody who’s not used to being injured and generally, when he’s had injuries, he’s back in the quickest amount of time.

“Probably for the injury he had, there isn’t anybody that’s going to get back quicker than that.”

Dunk now has an extended period to work on his fitness due to the international break.

Albion do not have a fixture until the middle of the month when they are scheduled to travel along the south coast to Southampton.

The time off should allow some of Albion’s other recent injury victims to return to contention.

Captain Bruno has not played since the opening-day defeat to Watford due to a hamstring problem, while Colombia winger Jose Izquierdo and Romania forward Florin Andone are yet to feature this season.

German midfielder Pascal Gross picked up an injury against Fulham, although Hughton does envisage it being a serious problem.

“His ankle will be sore but I’m sure he will be fine,” said Hughton.

Speaking about the forthcoming break, he added: “With the players coming back – the players that haven’t played – it’s a good opportunity to work them.”

Albion came from two goals down against the Cottagers with Glenn Murray’s double cancelling out goals either side of half-time from Andre Schurrle and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

They also missed a first-half penalty, with Gross’ effort being tipped wide by visiting goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.

Fulham have now taken four points from their opening four Premier League matches following promotion.

After signing 12 new players during the summer – including five on deadline day – manager Slavisa Jokanovic feels they can use the two-week rest before the trip to champions Manchester City to develop as a team.

“Now we are a round a one-month-old team, it definitely exists room ahead of us for improvement,” said the Serbian.

“And we are going to try and use this period immediately ahead of us for try working for making some kind of mini pre-season.”

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