Derbies can be unpredictable affairs.

On previous visits to Selhurst Park, Albion have won 3-0, conceded five goals in under an hour, had four penalties awarded against them (and one for) in the same game.

There are no guarantees, other than the Seagulls' last line of defence being equipped to cope with anything Crystal Palace and their supporters throw at him.

Mathew Ryan does not have to think very long to recall the most hostile atmosphere he has faced in a career which has taken him from his native Australia to Spain, Belgium and now England.

"For me it has easily been the Europa League with Brugge away to Besiktas in Turkey," he said.

"To describe it in words...deafening I guess. There were 70,000 fans, 69,000 were their fans. There were 40,000 there already for the warm-up. The Besiktas stadium has one of the highest decibel readings in world football. That night will stay a long time in my memory.

"Certain chants where one side of the stadium is quiet while the other are shouting at the top of their lungs. It was deafening."

Palace have a reputation for creating an atmosphere that bounces with far fewer numbers.

"I can't tell you from experience, because it's going to be my first time there in a derby," Ryan said. "I have actually played there once before (for Valencia in a pre-season friendly).

"I know it's quite a tight ground. You ask any player, the best atmosphere is in stadiums where the fans are close to the pitch. I'm very much looking forward to it."

Ryan approaches the collision with Palace free of the anxieties which accompanied the early stages of his move from the Mestalla to the Amex.

The Argus: A difficult two seasons in Spain, in which he made just 21 appearances, was accompanied by a tricky start with Albion, spilling a shot from distance on his debut in a friendly against Atletico Madrid at the Amex, then conceding four goals in consecutive defeats in the Premier League against Manchester City (above) and Leicester.

As self-doubt surfaced, Graham Arnold, Ryan's former boss at Central Coast Mariners, put him in touch with Mike Conway.

He is Sydney FC's emotional intelligence, resilience and mental agility coach, a long-winded way of saying Conway prepares Ryan mentally for the challenges he confronts in the Premier League.

"I am maintaining that contact weekly," Ryan revealed. "In the beginning it was more so phone calls. Now we are at a stage where it is still a phone call now and then but more text messages.

"At the start of the season and my turbulence at Valencia it was more about getting educated. There is an area in his genre of work which is very helpful, or I find very helpful to me as a footballer.

"I guess I was a little bit naive. There is such a big contribution from that. It's not rocket science, he has his techniques and methods to get you in the right frame of mind, believing in yourself.

"At the beginning of the season, when there is the adaptation phase, it takes a little bit of time. Since I initiated contact with him I felt like my season and form has taken steps in the right direction."

Ryan's form behind the joint eighth-tightest defence has been sufficiently consistent for him to be a genuine podium contender for Player of the Season.

The clean sheets have dried up, none in 11 this year through no fault of his own. He had seven in 21 before that, including the tame stalemate with Palace at the end of November.

"It was a bit of anti-climax," Ryan acknowledged. "It finished 0-0 and we were at home. Obviously at home we want to win, so we fell a little bit short of the mark on that one.

"We had a bit of redemption in the (FA) Cup, beating them. Unfortunately, I wasn't involved, so hopefully for me it will be third time lucky against Palace. To win a derby away from home would probably be the best way to win one."

It would also make almost certain that Ryan (below) would head off to the World Cup finals in Russia in the summer still as a Premier League player.

The Argus: "It will be a massive deal," Ryan said. "Me coming to England and to Brighton, having a full year under my belt playing against the best clubs at the best level - that was one big tick in trying to progress my career.

"I want to be as successful as I can at the highest level and to do that means performing well at a World Cup. There's no doubt in my mind that performing well for the club is going to help you achieve that goal.

"When you are constantly playing in a league that is so quick and so physical and players are constantly doing miraculous things that you didn't think were possible, being more aware and sharp and having to find ways to thwart players of this calibre is only going to prepare me better for a World Cup.

"I am looking forward to the World Cup for that reason alone, having got a year under my belt. To go there having not stayed up is going to look like a failure, not one that I've thought about or want to think about.

"The contrary is we're safe and I'll be going there full of confidence."