Brighton boss Chris Hughton says first-choice goalkeeper Mat Ryan has returned from the Asian Cup in “very good shape”.

Australia keeper Ryan has been absent for Albion since Boxing Day due to the international tournament in the United Arab Emirates.

The 26-year-old, who missed six fixtures in all competitions during that time, had previously been an ever-present for the Seagulls in the Premier League.

He is set to return to the Brighton starting XI at struggling Fulham on Tuesday after his country were beaten by hosts the UAE at the quarter-final stage on Friday.

And Hughton has no concerns about the condition of his number one.

“He’s fine. Maty’s one of these ones that because of where he plays his international football is used to travelling,” said Hughton at his pre-match press conference.

“We’ve had this for the last couple of seasons where he’s played on the back of a return flight from Australia a few days before.

“So, as regards him and his physicality, he’s in very good shape.”

Albion, in 13th place, have a seven-point cushion on the relegation zone ahead of the trip to Craven Cottage and are 12 points above second-bottom Fulham.

Despite the big-spending west London club’s disappointing campaign following promotion from the Championship, Hughton says he has been impressed with some of their performances.

“Their form hasn’t gone how they would have liked, certainly with what they’ve brought in in the summer. But that’s the Premier League and the difficulties of playing in this league,” he said.

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“What I’ve seen in Fulham are some good displays.

“They don’t look like a team that has had a difficult season, which always makes it hard and for a club like us.

“We’ll have to play at a good level because they have quality in the side, particularly offensively.”

Defender Leon Balogun is back in contention following illness, but wingers Alireza Jahanbakhsh (international duty) and Jose Izquierdo (knee) remain unavailable, along with Bernardo (hamstring).

Meanwhile, Albion under-23 midfielder Mathias Normann has joined Russian Premier League side FC Rostov on undisclosed terms and Ezequiel Schelotto has joined Serie A bottom side Chievo Verona on loan until the end of the season.

Press Association

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