There was a feeling Albion sleepwalked into relegation trouble last season.

That they looked comfortable until into the second half of the campaign and, bit by bit, slipped into danger.

There was a bit of that two years ago, too, after the win over Arsenal in early March.

No such chance this time. The Seagulls know the sticky situation they are currently in with plenty of time in which to do something about it.

Dale Stephens is convinced they are good enough to get out of trouble.

The midfielder returns to the scene of his first and so far only Premier League goal today under no illusions as to what is required as Albion face West Ham.

He said: “I feel like we have still enough time to be looking up the league rather than down it.

“At the end of January we are two points away from trouble so it’s not really a secret.

“We know the position we are in but lucky enough we have got enough games to pick up enough points to get us out of it.

“It is in our own hands and we know how we need to improve and we need to do it quickly.”

Goals from Stephens and Shane Duffy put Albion 2-0 up last season in the first match of 2019.

They would have gone tenth had they won that night but the Hammers came back to draw 2-2.

Stephens said: “Probably we were on better points this time last season and we probably thought we were more comfortable but this is a tough division.

“You can’t expect to play Aston Villa at home and Bournemouth away and pick up points without being at your best.

“In that respect, we have not maximised our points return from games that we wanted to.”

Stephens is aware opponents now know exactly how to play against Albion.

But he said: “I think that is quite normal.

“I don’t think we are just set in one structure and one way.

“We change shapes in each game and throughout the game.

“We have dominated games but only in periods and I think that is probably where we need to improve most.”

Stephens was as disappointed as anyone with the 3-1 defeat at Bournemouth last time out.

He shared the encouragement – but also the frustration – of many regarding how Albion played well for a fair amount of the contest.

He said: “We don’t feel like we are a million miles away but we have got to improve our position and not be in the positions we were in later on last season.

“We have gone more days than usual between the games.

“We have got two huge games coming up and it has given us a lot of time for preparation, planning what we are going to do for the next two games, which are massively important for this football club.”

Stephens, who has skippered the team on occasion, spoke about the need for leaders.

To that end, he sees the fact Glenn Murray was not tempted away in January as a plus.

Stephens said: “Although he hasn’t played a lot of football he is still a key member in the changing room.

“We need those individuals and characters to see us through to the end of the season.

“There are a few in that changing room and he is definitely one of them.

“We need leaders. We have got a lot of good quality in the squad but we need leaders to step up and guide us through and Glenn is one of those.”