Roberto De Zerbi has revealed why his Dutch central defender has made massive strides.

But Jan Paul van Hecke faces another big test today as he starts in central defence without skipper Lewis Dunk.

Van Hecke could team up with Igor – who impressed at AEK - at the back against Chelsea.

Alternatively, he could resume his Dutch double act with Joel Veltman, which saw the Seagulls through the closing stages at Nottingham Forest.

De Zerbi said the progress made by van Hecke is among the best he has seen as a coach.

Asked the reasons for such improvement, he replied: “The credit of JP’s improvement is for JP.

“He is a very strong character, he has a big, big, big confidence.

“He is not arrogant because he is a very good guy, very smart guy, but his confidence is incredible.

“To play at this level, especially if we play in our style, you need to show big confidence.

“For sure, the other, older, players help his improvement.

“Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, Joel Veltman, Gross, Lallana, Milner.

“We have a lot of great guys and I think the young guys in the dressing room have to study these old players.

“They are a great example.”