Competition for places. It’s one of the most common phrases in football and something a manager constantly craves.
Brighton are not expected to make too many changes for Southampton this Saturday but that’s not to say the players will feel overly comfortable either, despite their decent start.
From back to front, head coach Graham Potter has the capacity to tweak and still maintain his favoured formation of three at the back.
The defensive trio of Dan Burn, Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy have been superb in the opening two matches but they know £20m summer signing Adam Webster is eagerly awaiting his chance.
Equally, Dale Stephens, Davy Propper and Pascal Gross have Aaron Mooy breathing down their necks, while Yves Bissouma will also want to make his mark this season when he returns from a shoulder injury.
Solly March has adapted well in the first two matches as left wing-back but Bernardo is a very capable operator if his level drops in the slightest.
And just when Martin Montoya may have thought his position on the right was nailed down, Potter announces this week that Alireza Jahanbakhsh is well-suited to the role.
“Ali can play in any one of those front positions but also as a wing-back, on the right side, he’s been working with that as well,” said Potter.
Perhaps a subtle but deliberate move by the head coach to keep all the players on their toes. No-one is allowed to get too comfortable, even at this early stage. Ezequiel Schelotto could also be in contention after the upcoming international break as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.
Up front is where it gets interesting and offers a variety of options and styles, depending on the opposition and game plan. Glenn Murray has played both matches so far and Potter refused to place a limit on how many matches the soon to be 36-year-old can contest this season.
“His fitness is absolutely no problem and how he plays is no problem,” said Potter. “I wouldn’t put a number on it, as I wouldn’t with any player. He is a really important player for us. He has helped us so far and I’m sure he will continue to do so.”
Jurgen Locadia started against Watford - alongside Murray - and played very well but he was dropped for West Ham as the head coach favoured the dynamic skills of Leandro Trossard.
Neal Maupay and Florin Andone have been utilised from the bench in both matches and Aaron Connolly continues to train with the first team squad and has impressed the new management team. All three strikers have expressed a strong desire to start first team matches this season.
It’s an impossible job to keep the entire squad happy throughout a long campaign but at the moment, when called upon, each of these players are hungry and determined to make a statement to the manager.
It’s a position Brighton haven’t always been so fortunate to be in but this is exactly where Albion need to be to compete well at the top tier.
That’s why I’m going for another strong performance from Potter’s team against what will be a highly-motivated Southampton. Potter is right to predict an almighty battle.