You have to be on the ball as Graham Potter changes things at Albion.

No one is clearer about that than Shane Duffy.

The Seagulls’ reigning player of the year says he is still adapting to having more possession and being asked to play a different role in games by the head coach.

That is why he could understand why he was left out at Manchester City recently, even if he didn’t particularly like it.

But there is "on the ball" in the figurative sense too.

Taking on new ideas, being aware your place is not guaranteed – and helping young fellow Irishman Aaron Connolly through what looks like being his breakthrough season for club and country.

Actually, we have all got to be on the ball these days.

If you’re not, you might look at a photo from the subs’ bench at the Etihad, in which Duffy, Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray had joined long-time top target Aaron Mooy on the bench, and wondered what was going on.

As it is, the fact Potter had signed Adam Webster and made Dan Burn a first team regular hinted that Duffy was no longer an automatic pick alongside skipper Lewis Dunk.

As one reporter at a recent press conference put it, you think of Brighton and you think of Dunknduffy. Not so much now.

What perhaps took us aback was the change came so soon. Game four of the Prem season.

Duffy said: “Listen. It’s football and I’m man enough. I probably deserved to be left out. I probably hadn’t performed that well.

“I’m probably still adapting to the new position and its down to the manager.

“You have got to keep working hard and try and stay in the team.

“I knew at the start of the season about the competition here and that’s good for me. It’s only going to push me to improve and try and stay in the team.

“Football isn’t so easy you are going to play every week. It’s not like that and I was man enough to take it.

“I understand the manager’s decision. It’s not about me, it’s about this team and this club. I got behind the lads.

“I felt I am good enough to get back in the team so keep pushing and the manager has been good with me.”

Duffy scored three set-piece goals in the last two friendlies to make it an upbeat end to pre-season.

It was business as usual. But those smiles maybe masked the fact that he was having to adapt in other areas, playing to the right of Dunk and behind wing-back Martin Montoya.

He said: “It’s a different position for me completely. I’m on the right of the three.

“I’m playing a lot more one-versus-ones and getting on the ball, trying to control it and coming into midfield a lot more.

“It’s just adapting. I had only played three games and the manager thought, ‘It’s Man City’.

“Webby is a good player and Dan has been brilliant so I understood it. I probably didn’t perform to where their levels are this year so it’s one of them - a kick up the a… and get back at it.”

The way Albion now set up and their greater share of possession means some of Duffy’s more obvious talents are brought into play less often.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. They relied too much at times on Duffy, Dunk and possibly Dale Stephens to try and offer a solid foundation to a house of cards.

The idea now is not to sit back and soak up the pressure, even when 1-0 up.

Webster’s ability to carry the ball forward has had a potentially major knock-on effect at the very top of the Premier League.

Certainly the ill-advised lunge into which he tempted Aymeric Laporte has left City looking rather threadbare at the back and sparked a host of inquests into their defensive resources.

That is not an immediate concern of Albion’s unless it helps teams who might be around them in the table – Norwich City, perhaps - pick up points against the champions.

Webster was showing those skills as a more orthodox right-back by the time he carried the ball forward in the move which led to Neal Maupay scoring against Burnley.

Albion switched to a back four midway through the first half in that game and it worked. In fact, that was how we guessed they would line up when we saw the team sheet at 2pm.

One wonders whether Potter might have learnt from that and will go with a four from the start in certain matches.

As it was, the rejig on 20 minutes brightened things up and, not for the first time at the Amex this season, they probably should have won.

Duffy said: “It’s one of those where you have just got to keep going.

“Have we got the points we have deserved? Not really but that’s football, we just said that after the game.

“We said we can’t let that be the story of our season – ‘we should have more (points), we should have more’.

“The level of performance is there. Hopefully we keep working hard and wins will come, especially at home.”