Roberto De Zerbi has urged Brighton owner Tony Bloom to renew Adam Lallana’s contract amid fears the injured midfielder may not play again this season.
Former England international Lallana has missed Albion’s past four games after sitting out Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League loss to Fulham due to a leg issue sustained in last month’s 2-2 draw at Leicester.
With the problem worse than initially thought, the 34-year-old could already have made his final Albion appearance as his existing deal expires this summer.
Yet, despite the fitness concerns, head coach De Zerbi is determined to retain a player he regards as influential on and off the pitch.
“It can be he has finished the season,” said the Italian coach.
“It’s bad news for us because he’s one of the most important players. We can win without Adam but he’s important for us.
“I want Lallana with me, for sure, 100 per cent. I already spoke with Tony and I told him to extend his contract.
“Adam helps not only me and the coaches but the young players. He’s important on the pitch and out of the pitch.”
De Zerbi endured a frustrating weekend in which he was shown a red card in the tunnel after angrily confronting referee Darren England at full-time.
His emotions boiled over having watched Albion dominate against the counter-attacking Cottagers before being hit by a late sucker-punch from substitute Manor Solomon which dented their quest for European football.
Defender Joel Veltman says the Seagulls need to find a killer instinct in order to secure continental qualification after squandering a host of chances for the second successive fixture following last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.
“We’re aiming for it, we have the qualities,” said the Dutchman. “The club and stadium with the fans around it, the basics are there.
“We’ve played 22 games so we have to be humble and fight for every game. As long as we do that we’re ready maybe for Europe.
“We want to fight for it but we also know we are in the Premier League, with Chelsea and Liverpool behind us. It is going to be a tough one.
“Against Palace we were the better team and now we are losing. I would rather have it this way than not creating chances. We need to be killers.”
Fulham leapfrogged Brighton into sixth spot courtesy of the smash-and-grab success in Sussex.
Fulham midfielder Harrison Reed says Marco Silva’s side are also eyeing a spot in Europe.
“We believe,” said the 28-year-old. “We go into every game with the same mindset, we don’t look too far ahead.
“We haven’t reached our points tally yet so we need to keep pushing for that, I’m sure the manager will let you know when we have.”