Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi does not know whether his side have the squad depth required to cope with a hectic run of games.
The Seagulls’ European dream suffered a big blow on Wednesday night as they were beaten 3-1 at Nottingham Forest, where De Zerbi said his players lacked energy just three days after they lost the FA Cup semi-final to Manchester United on penalties.
They now have eight games to play in a month as they aim to qualify for European football for the first time in their history.
Asked whether his squad is light, the Italian replied: “I don’t know. For sure I am honest and I don’t want to speak in this way when we lose the game.
“I am proud of my players even though we lost. We will speak with (chairman) Tony (Bloom) at the end of the season. We are suffering too many injuries in this moment.
“I said this game was the most important game of the season. I knew the game was very, very, very tough. It was very tough for the energy but for the head too. The big teams are used to playing today, tomorrow, at four o’clock in the night, at nine o’clock in the morning, in the afternoon with the rain or sun. We are working on this.
“I think we can reach this level. I am speaking with Tony (Bloom). If we want to reach this level I think it is better to say I know the way. I will work hard to reach this level. I am not speaking about the table, I am speaking about the mentality.”
For Forest, victory gave their survival chances a much-needed shot in the arm as they climbed out of the bottom three.
Boss Steve Cooper was delighted that his side stuck to a plan to deliver a first three points in 12 games.
“We were never going to have a competition of possession or passes with them, because that wouldn’t have been the right plan,” Cooper said. “I asked the players at half-time to continue, not to get too frustrated – because some parts of the game they wouldn’t have enjoyed greatly – but I said they would get their rewards.
“We scored the second goal completely from the plan. The little box they play in midfield, with the centre-backs and the midfield players, is good, but if you do get it, it’s a really open pitch. We managed to take advantage of that.
“The players stuck to the plan brilliantly. It’s not as if we’ve been winning every week, so for the players to show that mentality and confidence in the game…We should take a lot of heart from that.”