08 Mar Chris Hughton hails Brighton top scorer Glenn Murray after England link
Chris Hughton does not believe it is his place to discuss a potential England call-up for Brighton’s in-form top-scorer Glenn Murray.
Veteran striker Murray has emerged as a surprise contender for the Three Lions’ World Cup squad after hitting five goals in as many Premier League games – including last weekend’s winner against Arsenal – to help propel Albion away from the relegation zone.
The 34-year-old now has 11 league goals for the season, with national team regulars Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy the only Englishmen to have managed more.
Seagulls manager Hughton admits Murray is playing an important role for his team but would not be drawn on talk of him being selected for international duty by Gareth Southgate.
“It’s probably not my position to talk about the merits of an England cap, or playing for England,” said Hughton ahead of Saturday’s game at Everton.
“That’s down to other people and what they see.
“What I can do is talk about what he has given us. And he’s been excellent playing in the top division, a division he’s always wanted to play in.
“We have really good competition and for anybody who plays in those positions at the moment, they will have had to warrant it and he certainly has done.
“We’re very grateful for what he’s given us.”
Murray’s goals – which have kept record-signing Jurgen Locadia and January recruit Leonardo Ulloa on the bench – have played a pivotal role in 10th-placed Brighton moving seven points clear of the bottom three.
The Seagulls travel to Goodison Park on the back of a five-match unbeaten league run following successive home victories over West Ham, Swansea and Arsenal and draws at relegation rivals Southampton and Stoke.
Last Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Arsene Wenger’s Gunners was perhaps Albion’s most memorable moment of the season so far, although there was a flash point towards the end of the game when winger Anthony Knockaert reacted angrily to being substituted.
Hughton played down the incident and said Frenchman Knockaert – who kicked a seat on the bench in frustration at his 77th-minute withdrawal – is an “emotional” player.
“The opinion I have is that I would prefer always that players want to play and (are) disappointed if they’re taken off,” said Hughton.
“Sometimes you have to understand the individual and Anthony’s a very passionate and emotional individual. But he has given this club an awful lot and given the team an awful lot.
“For me, no problem at all.
“He was out there celebrating with the team afterwards and for me that’s more important.”
Albion have no fresh selection concerns ahead of their visit to Merseyside.
Midfielder Steve Sidwell, who has suffered with back and ankle problems, remains the only absentee.