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Macca welcomes fresh start with Hyypia
Craig Mackail-Smith is relishing the chance of a fresh start under new Albion manager Sami Hyypia.
The striker reports back with the rest of the squad for medical checks at the club’s new £30 million base in Lancing today and tomorrow before pre-season training starts on Monday.
For Mackail-Smith it is an opportunity to put behind him a frustrating 15 months plagued by injuries and to prove his worth in the final year of his contract.
The 30-year-old made only seven substitute appearances under former boss Oscar Garcia at the end of last season.
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He helped Albion scramble into the play-offs after rupturing an Achilles in March 2013, towards the end of Gus Poyet's reign, and then suffering an ankle injury which severely delayed his comeback.
Oscar’s departure immediately after defeat in the play-offs against Derby County took Mackail-Smith by surprise but he is now looking forward to working with Hyypia.
The former Peterborough marksman said: “I’m really excited to be working with him. We’ve been very lucky at Brighton and since I joined the club.
“We’ve had Gus Poyet, Oscar Garcia and now Hyypia in charge, three guys with great playing careers who went into management.
“He’s someone who’s had a lot of experience at the highest level and he can hopefully bring a lot to the table with his management style and quality, but also offer us new information for training as well.
“We didn’t really see Oscar leaving but maybe it’s worked out well that we’ve brought in a new manager. With our new training ground ready, we can all move together in a fresh direction.
“The players that struggled under Oscar will now have a great chance of pushing themselves into the gaffer’s plans.
“It will be a bit weird at first because no one knows what he’s like as a person and there will be that meet and greet first session.
“We have testing on our first couple of days back, so it will be quite relaxed, and Sami will have the chance to go around and get to know the team better before we get back to the serious pre-season training.”
Mackail-Smith has scored 21 goals in 71 starts and 17 substitute appearances for Albion since signing when they moved into the Amex for £3.25 million from Peterborough on a four-year contract.
It has not really worked out so far for the former Scottish international but he believes that could be about to change under Hyypia.
Mackail-Smith said: “Hyypia has been there, done it, and knows how to win things. His first (managerial) job was in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen, which is a massive club.
“He’s a Liverpool great and has obviously won a lot of trophies in his career. I’ll be sure to ask him if he thinks we can win one next season – the Championship title, hopefully.”