ALBION boss Chris Hughton has urged his players to use the sense of injustice in the camp over the red card for Dale Stephens at Middlesbrough to fuel them through the play-offs.

The Seagulls’ hopes of pipping Boro for automatic promotion controversially faltered when Stephens was sent off by Premier League referee Mike Dean shortly after equalising in the 1-1 draw at the Riverside Stadium.

Hughton is adamant Dean got it wrong and wants his players to turn the setback to their advantage as they sweat on a successful appeal reversing the decision so the influential midfielder is not missing from both legs of the semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday and a possible Wembley final on May 28.

Hughton told The Argus: “We have to. I know a lot of people will say the team finishing third invariably doesn’t go up but Norwich finished third last season.

“We didn’t lose. We were a little bit indifferent against Derby and maybe again but we go into Friday (first leg) still on the back of a very good run and very tough to beat. We’ll need all of that.”

Stephens was sent off for a tackle on Gaston Ramirez, who was stretchered off with a gaping leg wound.

He beat the Urguayan on loan from Southampton to the ball before catching him with his studs. Dean was set to show a yellow card before altering his decision.

Hughton said: “There’s no doubt he changed his mind. If he changes his mind it’s got to be for a reason and that is the linesmen.

“One was probably 40 yards away, one 35, and the ref was probably no further than five yards away.

“For such a big decision like that, if somebody is affecting your judgement call, they have got to get it right. And they have got to be absolutely sure they got it right. My impression is they got it absolutely wrong.”

Albion, denied by Boro’s slightly superior goal difference after finishing on 89 points with an unbeaten 14-match run, are already without Lewis Dunk at Hillsborough on Friday (7.45). The centre-half completes a two-match ban for his red card against Derby last week.