The Albion get their campaign underway this evening with a trip to the County Ground to take on Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon charges – and manager Gus Poyet says concerns over the availability of key players have eased slightly.
Brighton enjoyed a fruitful run in last season’s competition, then called the Carling Cup now the Capital One League Cup, and will be looking to avoid a potential banana skin at newly promoted Swindon.
Tonight’s match, which is being shown live on Sky Sports, is the first time the Seagulls have played away from home in this competition since losing in the first round to League Two Northampton in the season before last.
And a repeat of the 2v1 opening day victory which launched the Albion’s League One winning season at the same ground will do Poyet nicely.
The Albion will have to do it the hard way, without Andrew Crofts (with Wales), Will Buckley (hamstring), Will Hoskins (foot) and Craig Mackail-Smith, who is expected to be fit to face Hull City on Saturday.
Left back duo Wayne Bridge and Marcos Painter should both be available, with the former having completed an encouraging 90 minute run-out in Friday’s 2v2 draw with Sussex rivals Crawley Town.
Bridge could be one of a string of players making his debut, with right-back Bruno and goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak ready to go.
Speaking yesterday, Poyet said, “I was a bit worried Friday, not knowing if we were going to have 18 first team players for the first game but players have got better in one week and we have plenty of the bodies for the trip.”
Left wing flyer Kazenga Lua Lua is in contention but may be rested for Brighton’s Championship bow at the weekend.
Swindon could give a debut to centre half Troy Archibald-Henville and Brighton’s travelling fans may get a glimpse of Alan Navarro, who was released by Poyet in the close season.
Di Canio, who was once linked to the Albion job, is expected a tough test. He said, “We watched Brighton play Chelsea and Reading - it’s clear that they play very good football.
“If we win, I’ll be happy; If we lose, I won’t be happy.”