Stephens' Albion future still unclear

Dale Stephens in action against Burton Albion on Saturday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Dale Stephens in action against Burton Albion on Saturday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

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Midfielder Dale Stephens gave nothing away about his future at Albion's pre-match Ipswich press conference yesterday.

The 27-year-old put in a transfer request in August, with Burnley among the clubs keen to sign him, but Brighton refused to sell and Stephens has since knuckled down and been an integral part of this season's promotion push.

His contract ends in the summer and he said: "The ultimate aim of every player is to play in the Premier League. Whether that will be with Brighton or somebody else, it doesn't change what my job has been all season.

"It's still the same from now to the end, whether at the end (of the season), I go or stay. Everyone wants to play there and hopefully we can do it this year."

On the transfer request, Stephens said: "I've always said that it wasn't a case of being unhappy here, I've enjoyed playing for this football club and I'll continue to do so until my last day.

"It was an easy transition of not leaving and carrying on playing with these players and this manager.

"I said a few months back that my job is simple. I'm playing in a good team and will try to win games for this football club. It's a great club, I've enjoyed being here and whether it finishes this year or not, I'd like to see this club in the Premier League."

Albion have not lost when Stephens has started a game this season and he said: "Over the past two weeks, I've been reminded of that a few times.

"But it's not just about one player, we've come through a little sticky patch with a good result at the weekend and hopefully we can build on that now."

Seagulls boss Chris Hughton added: "As regards to that stat, I'm conscious of it but I'm also conscious one of our best performances was at Sheffield Wednesday where it was Oliver Norwood and Steve Sidwell in the middle of the park.

"But Dale is no doubt a big, big player for us and he certainly gives us something."

Looking ahead to tonight's game with Ipswich, Stephens said: "It will be a difficult game, they're on the back of a good result at Villa and Mick McCarthy will come here and set his team up like he always has done.

"They'll prove a tough test but we're back on track and we're ready to go."

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