Brighton captain Lewis Dunk has been heralded as one of the Premier League’s top-five central defenders by Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi.
Dunk has been in fine form for Brighton as De Zerbi looks to guide the south-coast club into European competition next season.
The 31-year-old has been an ever-present for Brighton this term and has helped them to sixth place in the Premier League ahead of Saturday’s trip to fifth-placed Tottenham.
“He has to play every game because he is too important for us,” De Zerbi said.
“He is very important for us.
“I think he is one of the best five centre-backs in the Premier League, but not only in the Premier League.
“You can understand what I think about the quality of Lewis.”
Brighton have not lost on the road since October and De Zerbi has been delighted with that run.
“It will be a very difficult game,” he said.
“I believe in my players and when I see my players working and playing in training, always I trust in them and believe them to get good results. It is proud for me to be the coach of Brighton.”
In-form striker Evan Ferguson has also been earning plaudits and the 18-year-old will come up against Tottenham and England’s record goalscorer Harry Kane on Saturday – with De Zerbi a fan of both players.
“Evan, now, his best quality is to score, to shoot,” he said.
“I would like to help him become more complete, become a proper player. Now he has one big quality but, to achieve the big level, he has to improve.
“Kane is a complete player, complete striker. He can play like a number 10 or like a number nine. He has the quality of a number 10 and he is a striker, a goalscorer like a number nine.
“He is able to keep the ball, to play with team-mates in the last 20 metres and he understands when he has to attack the space or when to receive the ball. He is a top player.”