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Buckley relishes new role
Albion have only one striker available at the moment, or two if you include Will Buckley.
The winger turned assistant to Leo Ulloa is up for the challenge, which is just as well in the Seagulls’ current predicament.
With Craig Mackail-Smith and Will Hoskins on the sidelines and the fitness of Ashley Barnes in doubt, a shortage of firepower is self-evident.
Buckley has made his name with Albion as an orthodox wide man but head coach Oscar Garcia has amended his role in the last two matches.
He worked closer to Ulloa in the victories over Birmingham and Burnley, although he still had the freedom to drift back into his more customary position.
The ploy has worked well and Buckley has adapted smoothly to a return to his Lancastrian roots.
He said: “I had never been a winger until I was 18 or 19 and broke into the Rochdale team. I was always seen as a striker. I am comfortable up there.
“I like playing up there but obviously the wing is probably where I have shown my best performances in a Brighton shirt, so where ever it may be I just want to perform.
“I am a different type of striker to Leo. He is more of a target man. I probably play off a target man better but players have got to step up.”
Buckley’s improved performance against Burnley after a slow start to the season was further proof of the players growing accustomed to the modifications in style under Oscar.
A hectic start to the campaign gave the Spaniard limited time to get his message across on the training ground. That has changed in the past fortnight with the Saturday-to-Saturday schedule.
Buckley said: “We’re playing well. The gaffer’s ideas are kind of solidifying now. When things change it can take a while.
“We started off with two games we shouldn’t have lost (Leeds and Derby). We are settled now and hopefully we can keep winning games.
“My role has changed slightly in the team but the main part is we want to play football, which is clear to see. We want the philosophy to stay the same, do what got us where we were last season.
“He’s done other things and hopefully they are starting to cement into the team. We need to take on board what he wants.”
One of the more noticeable changes since the Gus Poyet era is that Albion are mixing up their passing game with a more direct approach.
Buckley said: “It is a message from him (Oscar). We want to keep passing the ball but when get closed down and can’t play out from the back he tells us to get the ball forward quickly. It seems to make the fans happy, they like to see that, so it is working well for us. We need to keep that going now.”
All of Albion’s goals in the Championship so far have been provided by two players – Ulloa and a revitalised Andrew Crofts.
That is a statistic which Buckley, who has hit a healthy eight in each of his two full seasons with Albion since a £1million move from Watford, is keen to alter. I am due a goal now,” he admitted. “Hopefully it will come sooner rather than later.”
Perhaps as soon as tomorrow at The Amex against Millwall, who are next-to-bottom in the embryonic table without a win and were knocked out of the Capital One Cup in extra-time at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night. Completing a hat-trick of victories would be a comforting way for Albion to enter the first international break.
Buckley said: “That’s the big thing now, because it’s two weeks without a game so you want to be going away happy and send the fans away happy. “We are confident playing at home and we need to take advantage.”
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