Chris Hughton has warned Albion they face a tall order at Stoke today to improve on their record defending set pieces.

The Seagulls have conceded a Premier League high of 17 goals from set plays.

Most have been from corners, including both in last month’s 2-0 defeat at West Brom.

Stoke are no longer as menacing as they were in dead ball situations during the Tony Pulis era, when Rory Delap’s long throws caused havoc in the opposition penalty area.

They have still scored seven goals from corners this season, including the second in the 2-2 draw at the Amex in November. Hughton expects the aerial route to be a danger for the Seagulls in Paul Lambert’s fourth match in charge of the relegation-haunted hosts in succession to Mark Hughes.

Hughton said: “They will be, because when I look at the change in the way they are playing and the formation, they are still a very big side, and if Peter Crouch plays, they are even bigger.

“So yes, they will be a threat. We have had a poor record in defending corners, which has improved in recent games, and that will need to be the case again, because at the moment I think they are a very good footballing side but they are a threat at set plays as well.”

Crouch has revealed he might have to miss the game due to an ankle infection.

The match has been billed in the Potteries as the biggest in a decade since promotion for Stoke, who are in the relegation zone, three points adrift of Albion in 13th with a far inferior goal difference.

“That probably surprises me a bit,” Hughton told The Argus. “We continue to say it’s the biggest game until the next biggest game.

“I still think we are far enough away from the end of the season for it not to be that type of game.

“But it’s a game we both want to win because we are in similar positions in the league.

“If that’s their thinking I think it is probably now because they are regarded as a very secure Premier League team.

“It’s probably a position that over the years they are not used to being in.

“So I think that’s probably more than the fact they are playing a team in a similar position.

“We need to impose ourselves on them and create what we can.

“We know if they are having a good spell the crowd will certainly get behind them and drive them on.

“We need to make sure we are in the game enough that we don’t allow that to happen.”