Brighton & Hove Albion will be boosted by the return of left-back Gaetan Bong for Saturday's (2 December) latest Premier League fixture against Liverpool.

The Cameroon international had started all five of the Seagulls' previous five top-flight matches after a muscle injury and added competition from summer signing Markus Suttner and was involved in a controversial episode during a narrow defeat to Manchester United last weekend, when striker Romelu Lukaku avoided a potential three-match ban for appearing to kick out at him at a corner.

However, he was replaced by his rival for the midweek stalemate against Crystal Palace after a knee problem ruled him out of the first-ever Premier League edition of the M23 derby.

Brighton manager Chris Hughton was initially hopeful that Bong would be fit for the weekend visit of Liverpool to the Amex Stadium and confirmed during a pre-match press conference on Thursday [30 November] that he was indeed fine to feature after what was a very minor issue, leaving Steve Sidwell as the club's only absentee.

"Gaetan's fine," he was quoted as saying by The Argus. "He had a slight knock and we decided not to take a chance.

"We've got two left-backs plus Liam Rosenior, who is still pushing, so we felt we didn't need to take a risk with Gaetan."

Sidwell, who, like Bong, signed a one-year contract extension after last year's memorable promotion-winning campaign, was troubled by a lingering back complaint throughout pre-season and has been sidelined since undergoing surgery in early September to correct a prolapsed disc pressing against his nerve.

There was optimism earlier this week that the 34-year-old, a player with 200 Premier League appearances under his belt, would be able to commence some light training after the Liverpool match next week.

Striker Sam Baldock has also yet to play any competitive senior matches in 2017-18 after sustaining a calf injury in pre-season, although Hughton insists he is available for selection after featuring for the Under-23s but is perhaps "not at his best level" after such a lay-off.

Well-organised Brighton have adapted well after a rough opening to their first top-tier season since 1983 and are nestled neatly in mid-table with more than a third of the campaign now completed.

However, Hughton is only too aware of the scale of the task that awaits them next against a free-scoring Liverpool team that have risen to fifth after losing just one of their last 10 in the league and won 3-0 at Stoke City on Wednesday while making six changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Chelsea.

"Everybody talks about Manchester City at the moment and rightly so," he said. "They have done it from day one and of course haven't lost this season.

"But certainly where Liverpool are at the moment they are in Manchester City form and if you look at all the offensive quality of Manchester City then you have to look at Liverpool as well. They are very, very dangerous opposition."

Gaetan Bong
Gaetan Bong missed Brighton's derby draw with Crystal Palace due to a minor knee issue