By 90Min
August 03, 2019

Last season, Brighton survived relegation from the Premier League by a whisker and will look to do the same in this upcoming campaign – albeit in a more convincing manner. With new manager Graham Potter at the helm, there is a sense of optimism about the Seagulls' chances of staying up this year.

Increased squad depth appeared essential this summer, yet Brighton have made just two signings so far window, with Leandro Trossard joining the club from Genk and Matt Clarke joining from Portsmouth – only to be loaned straight back to Derby.

This means that the Brighton squad still looks a little thin, leaving them reliant on youngsters breaking through into the senior squad. Here are four players who have made their mark in pre-season, and will be hoping to become a regular part of the first-team squad this year.

Steven Alzate

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The young English attacking midfielder has had a very good pre-season for Brighton, with a scintillating performance in the first fixture against FC Liefering the highlight of his performances.

He did not look out of place and was calm and composed alongside first-team players Pascal Groß and Dale Stephens. This is something he showed last campaign whilst on loan at Swindon Town, contributing to seven goals at his time with the League 2 side.

The 20-year-old will be hoping his performances in pre-season will give him a shot at the first-team despite the tough competition, and his great attacking attributes will have impressed new boss Graham Potter – who has been openly pleased about the quality the youngsters have shown.

Max Sanders

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Another youngster who put a stand-out performance against FC Liefering was England Under-19 international Max Sanders. The midfielder deputised at right-back for the match, and was instrumental in the Seagulls' fourth goal; showing the confidence to skip past a couple of challenges and gain a pre-assist for the goal.

The 20-year-old will be hoping that his performances in both pre-season and with the Brighton Under-23 side haven't gone unnoticed, especially considering he captained the side for the latter half of the campaign – boding well for the future.

Like his midfield counterpart Alzate, Sanders will have to fight off a lot of competition in midfield if he is to play. He will likely stay in the Under-23 side as he is the captain, but his performances in pre-season means he has thrown his name in contention for a first-team place.

Tudor Baluta

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Young Romanian defender Tudor Baluta spent the season in the Romanian first division with FC Viitorul, where he featured at centre-back and as a defensive midfielder. 

The 20-year-old made 15 top-flight appearances last season, scoring two goals, signing a three-year deal with the Seagulls in January before being loaned back out to Romania. The Romanian international has proved his class in pre-season with assured performances at the back.

The centre-back has the potential to become a world-class player if he is given the opportunity in the first team to develop, and he is eager to kick-start his career on the south coast this coming season. With a good pre-season under his belt, he can learn from the likes of Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk and improve even more.

Aaron Connolly

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Probably one of the best talents in Brighton's academy, Aaron Connolly has huge potential to become a great striker. Only 19 years old, Connolly contributed to a striking 13 goals in 15 appearances in Premier League 2 for Brighton's Under-23s before being shipped out on loan to Luton Town.

However, he suffered a hamstring injury that kept him out for the rest of the season, and was unable to display his superb potential. Despite his pre-season not being as good as some of the aforementioned players, he certainly has a higher ceiling – and showed some glimpses of it in pre-season.

Connolly has already represented Albion at senior level, making his debut in an EFL Cup tie at home to Barnet two seasons ago. Brighton may lack goals next season and the Irish Under-21 international could be an interesting spark off the bench if he's given a chance, which could happen, on account of Glenn Murray being...well, old.

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