STEVE SIDWELL has praised Chris Hughton’s enduring faith in his Championship promotion winners.

The former midfielder believes a core of the side who went up two seasons ago have repaid their boss’s trust in the top tier.

He has backed them to secure a third Premier League year by staying up this season.

Eight of the Seagulls’ promotion winners have started games in the Premier League already this term although competition is hotter than ever after several high-profile summer signings.

Sidwell, who now combines coaching and ambassadorial roles after hanging up his boots, said: “They earned the right to get to the Premier League and fair play to him for giving them that chance. He believed in that squad.

“Then it comes down to players.

“The gaffer can only put them on the pitch and it’s down to them to perform and they they certainly did that last year.

“It’s that novelty and no fear where you go out and express your natural play.

“There were times when you could tell they were tense and nervous but the majority of time they took to it like a duck to a water, “On the whole they have all got to be pleased with themselves and I really fancy them this year to stay up as well.”

Promotion winner Gaetan Bong had a torrid return to international action on Saturday as Cameroon were held 1-1 at tiny Comoros in an African Nations qualifier. Bong played the first hour after getting the nod ahead of Allan Nyom.

Feature length interviews with Sidwell and Liam Rosenior are currently available via the subscription Seagulls TV service.