Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has described Brighton counterpart Chris Hughton as “an incredible football man” before the two sides’ Premier League clash on Saturday.
Howe has not lost to Hughton in four meetings since the pair took charge of their current clubs, but the Cherries boss holds his opposite number in high regard.
“I’ve got so much respect for Chris Hughton and the job he’s done at Brighton,” Howe told a press conference.
“I look forward to catching up with him. He’s an incredible football man.”
Howe guided Bournemouth to the top flight for the first time in 2015 while Hughton won promotion to the Premier League with Brighton two years later. Both managers had been in their roles for two-and-a-half years.
Another reunion Howe is looking forward to at the Vitality Stadium is one with Brighton’s evergreen striker Glenn Murray.
Murray, 35, spent less than a year with the Cherries after joining from Crystal Palace for £4million in September 2015, but headed home a late winner to clinch Howe’s side a famous 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge three months later.
“Glenn’s goal against Chelsea will always live long in the memory,” Howe said.
“That game and goal gave us the belief we could win anywhere. He’s doing well with Brighton and is still scoring goals at the highest level.”
Brighton paid Bournemouth an undisclosed fee in the summer of 2016 to bring Murray back for a second spell at the club and his eight goals so far this season have helped keep Hughton’s side nine points above the bottom three.
The Cherries are two points and two places above them in 11th, but six defeats in their last seven league games has taken the gloss off their flying start.
“All of our focus right now is on Brighton,” Howe said. “We know it’s a really big game for us and we’re excited by the challenge ahead of us.”
Howe could be without skipper Simon Francis, who has not trained this week, but both Tyrone Mings and Callum Wilson are expected to be available.
Defender Mings sustained a knock to his hip in the midweek Carabao Cup defeat to Chelsea, while striker Wilson came through unscathed after a minor hamstring issue.
“Our squad is strong,” Howe said. “We saw that in the changes we made in the Chelsea game.
“We’re in a good position and looking forward to our busy schedule.”