Brighton midfielder Beram Kayal admits he is desperate for opportunities to play his way back into Chris Hughton’s thoughts following his injury nightmare.
Kayal missed the first four months of the campaign after breaking his leg in pre-season and has been restricted to just three appearances since returning to the Seagulls’ squad in late November.
The Israel international is expected to be handed a start against Albion’s bitter rivals Crystal Palace in the third round of the FA Cup on Monday evening and he insists he is ready to seize his chance and give manager Hughton something to think about.
“Obviously I’m looking to play more games and push myself and try to make more headache to the gaffer, to make myself in the front of the picture and give him the reason to play me regularly,” Kayal said.
“There’s nothing better to get fitness and confidence up than playing games.
“He tried to give me the chance when he could. The only place I could prove myself was the training ground – I pushed myself to do more and extra to get my (fitness) levels up.
“When I get the opportunity in any game, I need to be ready, then I need to prove to the manager that I’m ready to take it.
“I would love to have more games, but sometimes in the middle of the season it’s hard. You are hungry to play. You train all week and it means a lot to you to play on the Saturday.”
Despite his lack of fitness and limited outings, Kayal has been given some tough assignments in his first season in the Premier League.
His comeback came against Tottenham at Wembley on December 13, followed by another start at Chelsea on Boxing Day, with a substitute appearance at home to Watford sandwiched between.
With Hughton revealing he will rotate his squad for the Palace cup tie, Kayal’s next game looks likely to be another testing encounter and the former Celtic man – who played in eight Old Firm derbies – is well aware of the importance of the fixture to Albion fans.
“I know what a derby means for a club,” Kayal added. “I had experience of playing a few in my career.
“We feel it as players, we feel the atmosphere. The fans are asking about the games against Crystal Palace.
“It means a lot to us to do well in front of our fans.
“We know how big this game is going to be for us and we’ll do everything to win this game.”