Chris Hughton
BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Chris Hughton, Manager of Brighton & Hove Albion looks on prior to the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal FC at American Express Community Stadium on December 26, 2018 in Brighton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton has heaped praises on the club’s central defensive pairing of Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk.

The Seagulls’ success in establishing themselves in the Premier League owes a lot to their defensive capabilities, built on the reliable centre-back partnership of Dunk and Duffy.

Dunk, who’s Brighton’s vice-captain became an England international last November, while Duffy is a regular with the Republic of Ireland national team.

Hughton says the pair are vital members of his team and feels both players can improve by watching Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk play.

“What Van Dijk is to Liverpool, that’s what our two are to us,” said Hughton, according to Belfast Telegraph.

“We know what level he is but if I’m looking at what you would regard as two outstanding centre-halves at our level, ours are as valuable to us as what he is to them.”

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“The two we have will look at the best around where they can learn from, what they can pick up from. At the moment, he (Van Dijk) is a great role model. He doesn’t miss many games, is good in both boxes and is a top, top all-around player.”

Despite being four points clear at the top of the Premier League, Liverpool was beaten 2-1 by second-placed Manchester City in their last league game, before crashing out of the FA Cup courtesy of a 2-1 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.

Asked if the Liverpool can end their long wait for a first division title, Hughton said the Reds are favourites but “wouldn’t put money on it”.

“I think they are favourites simply because of the points difference, and I think they’ve been outstanding,” he said.

“But I couldn’t tell you who will win it. And certainly, I wouldn’t put money on it.”