Brighton boss Graham Potter will continue to tread carefully with Tariq Lamptey despite the youngster’s dynamic performances in the last two matches.
Full-back Lamptey is still building up his strength and fitness a year after suffering a serious hamstring injury which sidelined him for nine months.
The 21-year-old gave Leeds a torrid 75 minutes before being withdrawn in the 0-0 draw at the Amex last weekend, and then climbed off the bench to set up Neal Maupay’s late equaliser in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at West Ham.
Brighton fans are clamouring for Lamptey to get more minutes on the pitch, but Potter says the hectic December schedule means he cannot risk the Chelsea youth product from the start in every match.
“We’re going through a period where we’re going to play lots of games in a short space of time so that’s the only thing that’s going to stop the regularity of Tariq,” said Potter.
“We all know his qualities and what he brings to the team. It’s just the close proximity of games will challenge him and us in terms of how much he plays and when he plays.”
Lamptey is likely to return to the starting line-up when Brighton travel along the south coast to face Southampton on Saturday.
Potter is an admirer of the job Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has done at St Mary’s and expects another tough match.
“I like Southampton, I like what they do as there is real clarity there. You can see what they’re trying to do, they’re really impressive in the build-up and how they get into the final third,” added Potter.
“I am sure they will get better and better as they adjust to each other, with Danny Ings moving on, the identity of how they defend and press is really good.
“It’s always a tough game, but another one we are looking forward to. It’s three games in a week for both teams, both have had a busy schedule.”