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Preview: Brighton V Forest

Back with a bang on a Friday night at the scene of that wonderful Benny goal in February. Daniel Storey managed to get Brighton fan David Hartrick down from the ceiling after Bobby Zamora's return just about long enough to get him to answer some questions.

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Daniel Storey: How will Brighton do this season?

David Hartrick: I'd take anything above relegation at the moment but realistically it's so dependent on if we can find a way to score some goals. Bobby's back (this may come up once or twice during this Q&A) but will have to be used at the right time rather than three times in a week, plus if we get silly money for Lewis Dunk that would be great financially but potentially fatal on the pitch depending how/if we'd then replace him. My head says we could be in trouble, my heart says definite promotion, a 35-goal season from Bobby and at least one cup final.


DS: Happy with your summer business?

DH: Yes. And no. We've had to go down the route of players who represent potential rather than proven talent and at the moment everything is based on hope. Jack Harper could be superb, equally he could be "one for the future" - not great in a league so dependant on immediate results to survive, particularly as we've signed him injured. We'll see how it all pans out and if we get the winger we desperately need. Did I mention Bobby Zamora's back?

DS: In no more than 60 words, tell me it's great to have Bobby Zee back?

DH:It's ruddy bloody marvellous. We're realistic - a long season in a tough league is going to be hard on an ageing striker with an injury prone last two years - but the club needed a lift for the new season and it's certainly done that. We've signed some young strikers who need mentoring so his best work may be done off the pitch in truth.

DS: Where are you weak?

DH: We need width, better defensive options and goals, goals, goals. We have bodies in so the pressure won't be on the *ahem* limited Chris O'Grady to be our main striker, there are those who don't want him anywhere near the match day squad in truth, but we have to create more, concede less and as a minimum look like scoring. Simple...

Oh, and Bobby's back.

DS: Happy with Chris Hughton?

DH: Yes, but without wishing to labour a point, if we don't start scoring he's going to be under a lot of pressure very, very quickly. This is his team, last year was largely down to Sami's apathy at the start and poor recruitment, nobody is booing the bench yet but God help him if we don't get a win in our first couple of games and don't look very threatening again. Bobby coming means the fans feel a bit better about things, time will tell.

DS: Where will Brighton finish this season?

DH: I'd chop dead bodies up to finish top half in a relatively trouble-free season. I fear we may be (for me, Clive) in and around relegation for most of the year. I'll split the difference and say 18th. Bobby should be worth 20 points alone, he said convincing no one, least of all himself.

DS: Where do you think Forest will finish?

DH: Depends. From an outsider's perspective it feels like you have a good first eleven, but it also feels like you could implode at any time. You'll finish above us - with Des Walker and Stuart Pearce pulling the strings at the back and the Clough/Webb/Roy midfield axis how could you not? - but I think you'll be just outside the play-offs and continue to ruin my trebles as I always back you thinking yeah, they win that, only for you to find a way to let me down.

DS: Score prediction for Friday?

DH: 2-1 to us, Zamora (2)

So there you have it - the first preview of the season and Bobby Zee to stuff all the goodwill shown towards him by notching two against us in front of the cameras. Possibly.

Thanks to David Hartrick who has his fingers in many excellent pies: IBWM, the excellent '50 Teams That Mattered' (available from Ockley books)  and the 'Football Fives' podcast, which also features our very own Daniel Storey.