In a new feature, we’re taking a look at opposition players that we expect to have a good performance in the game.

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Welcome to xGp (Expected Good Performance) a new pre-match feature to go alongside our ‘Complete Preview’ feature – where we will highlight an opposition player that we expect to give a good performance.

Of course, there is a chance that the player may not make the matchday squad – but we’ll only be picking players that can play (i.e, they’re not injured).

There was a time when Shane Duffy proved to be undroppable in the heart of the Brighton & Hove Albion defence, but the Republic of Ireland international found himself relegated to the bench for the Seagulls’ game against Manchester City last month – the first time the defender had not started a league game since 2016.

Last season’s Player of the Year for Brighton, Duffy has impressed since the side’s promotion and was often a mainstay alongside defensive partner Lewis Dunk. But with the arrival of Graham Potter, and the subsequent purchase of Adam Webster for circa £20,000,000 – as well as the re-emergence of Dan Burns as a first-team option – Shane Duffy now finds himself a little out of favour at the Amex Stadium.

Duffy’s game time this season has been sporadic, to say the least. He has played in four of seven fixtures for Brighton (if you count their Carabao Cup Second Round game), amassing 384 minutes of playing time thus far. It’s not a case of the defender not being fancied at all – Graham Potter has come out and stated that Duffy has an ‘important part to play’ this season – it’s just that there are three centre-backs that seem, well, more interesting to their manager.

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He will be eager to prove that he is worthy of a starting spot should he play in the Carabao Cup this evening against Aston Villa. He currently holds the worst passing success rate across the four centre-back choices, sitting at 80.8% – whereas Brighton new boy Adam Webster sits at 91%, and he played in the 4-0 defeat to Manchester City.

Duffy’s last start came in a 1-1 draw against Burnley eleven days ago, meaning that he was benched for the sides 0-0 draw against Newcastle United. Against Burnley, the defender’s passing suffered, but he was strong in the duel – winning 18 times out of 23 attempts.

The defender has made 21 interceptions across his four appearances this season – 11 of which came in Brighton & Hove Albion’s 1-1 draw with West Ham United – as well as 17 clearances. It seems it’s not a case of Potter not rating his defensive ability – they’re all good defenders – but simply valuing Duffy’s peers higher due to their passing ability.

Keinan Davis, who is expected to start up front for Aston Villa at the Amex Stadium tonight, may struggle with the physicality of the 6ft 3″ defender. Duffy will be itching to prove himself – and Davis could help to provide that for the Republic of Ireland international.

You would expect Shane Duffy to start tonight against Aston Villa, as he was benched for last weekend’s game. With Leon Balogun struggling for fitness, we could see Duffy and Webster – the former Villa target – lining up together in the heart of Brighton & Hove defence.

If Duffy doesn’t play – keep an eye out for Pascal Groß if the German midfielder starts. He’s key for Brighton.

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