Cardiff City vs Brighton and Hove Albion preview: How to watch, team news, kick-off time, predicted line-ups and ones to watch
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Alireza Jahanbaksh contest for the ball during Cardiff CIty's 2-0 away triumph at Brighton and Hove Albion / Photo by Cardiff City FC/Getty Images

Having overcame newly-promoted League Two side Sutton United 3-2 via strikes from Marley Watkins and Josh Murphy in the competition's inaugural round of fixtures, the Bluebirds will now be on the quest for progression as they face Graham Potter's unit.

They will no longer have Watkins to call upon, though- the winger was only registered at the Cardiff City Stadium on a trial basis, and despite recording a brace in the win over Sutton, Mick McCarthy issued an ultimatum not to recruit the veteran on a permanent basis. 

It now leaves the door open for younger players from Cardiff's ever-shining academy system to come in and forge a real impression at senior level, and some supporters may well be hoping that such an opportunity is handed tomorrow evening.

How much change McCarthy may wish to sanction is currently a beacon of speculation; after an undefeated start to the season, the Welsh club are riding high on momentum and it provides a serious dilemma of whether to change a winning squad or utilise experimentation and also rest key players. 

It is paramount that they have their strongest possible squad to field on Saturday afternoon, with Severnside rivals Bristol City heading to town in a crunch showdown. 

A victorious mentality is challenging to consistently implement in football, however, it would appear that they have unearthed just that after encouraging wins over Blackpool and most recently, Millwall, where Aden Flint and Sean Morrison both married their goalscoring prowess with aerial superiority to defeat the Lions 3-1

Those two wins came alongside respectable draws against Barnsley and Peterborough United- and again, Flint's eye for goal shone through with an emphatic brace to salvage a draw against Darren Ferguson's men.

No doubt, locking horns with a team of Brighton's stylistic class and structural functionality will serve as a thorough test. The Seagulls, renowned for their fluid, creative brand of football, have sought to build upon last term's frustrating 16th placed finish with a strong introduction to the fresh campaign- their best ever Premier League start.

Their first call of duty took them to the uncompromising Turf Moor, and though James Tarkowski had fired Burnley into the ascendancy after two minutes, late goals from Neal Maupay and Argentine international Alexis Mac Allister guided the visitors to a 2-1 victory.

They then followed that up with a straight-forward 2-0 win over newcomers Watford on Saturday afternoon, with the Hornets evidently unable to handle the know-how of their experienced opponents. 

Shane Duffy and Maupay both featured on the scoresheet in Sussex, and Brighton will hope that the fiery French forward can revitalise and refind his prior form, where he scored 10 times in his debut campaign two years ago.

  • Team news

Many of Cardiff's stars have successfully walked the road to recovery in recent weeks, leaving a significantly shorter injury list.

After recovering from COVID-19 following their involvement with Wales at EURO 2020, Kieffer Moore and Rubin Colwill both made their first league starts of the season, Murphy, Tom Sang and Morrison have all also made a comeback from varying setbacks. 

It now means that currently, Cardiff are only waiting on Isaac Vassell and Lee Tomlin to regain full fitness. Both have recovered from injury and fitness related problems, and have plied their trade with Steve Morison's U23 side in a bid to regain peak physical condition. 

Meanwhile, nerves have been amplified on the South Coast following Maupay's shoulder injury against Watford, sustained in a challenge with Oghenekaro Etebo. 

Potter insists that the blow is not severe, however, he will no doubt be desperate for arguably the club's finest finisher to be back in action as soon as possible. 

The former-Brentford ace is not the sole member of Brighton's walking wounded; colossal defensive stalwart Dan Burn is sidelined with a knee injury, Dutch stopper Kjell Scherpen is out with an ankle injury, whereas Danny Welbeck and Tariq Lamptey are both recovering from respective hamstring injuries. 

Versatile defender Joel Veltman- who was a part of Holland's EURO 2020 squad- has contracted COVID-19, too, resulting in a selection conundrum for Potter and co. 

  • Predicted line-ups

Cardiff (3-4-3):

Phillips; Morrison, Flint, Nelson; Ng, Pack, Ralls, Bagan; Murphy, Moore, Giles

Brighton (3-4-2-1):

Sanchez; Webster, Duffy, Dunk; Gross, Mwepu, Bissouma, March; Richards, Mac Allister; Zeqiri

  • Ones to watch

Cardiff- Aden Flint 

You would have to dedicate a treacherous search not just among the Cardiff ranks, but throughout the Football League to find many players who have embraced a more significant resurgence than Bluebirds cult hero Flint. 

Seemingly castaway and within the periphery under ex-boss Neil Harris, McCarthy was instantly allured upon his arrival and elected the Championship veteran to start every match until the end of the campaign.

Such a gamble was handsomely rewarded, with Flint going on to play the best football of his Cardiff career in a newfound formation facilitating three central defenders and even scoring the winning goal in April's South Wales Derby showdown away to Swansea City. 

Flint has picked up where he left off last term and has emerged as one of his side's star performers in the opening few matches at both ends of the pitch, integrating imposing defensive performances as well as being a real threat in the final third. 

In fact, the 32-year-old currently sits at the summit of the division's top scorer charts with four goals to his name, having scored an emphatic brace to overturn a two goal deficit in Tuesday's 2-2 draw at Peterborough before once again transpiring as the goalscoring hero against Millwall, where he scored twice. 

His ability to capitalise on proficient crosses, reign supreme in duels and embed precisely into Cardiff's direct style of play means he will be a real danger all night to Brighton- though they would be unwise to forget that his presence at the heart of defence is equally formidable, too.

How they approach and attempt to conquer the task of outsmarting Flint defensively and nullifying him going forward will be decisive, you feel.

Brighton: Yves Bissouma

It is often rather telling of a player's quality when their consistent performances merit the interest of top clubs, which Brighton midfielder Bissouma has became accustomed to more recently.

An energetic presence within the middle of the park, Bissouma's power and ball-carrying prowess enables Brighton to take control of the game and deploy quick transitions from deep areas, while the 24-year old also boasts solid defensive attributes.

Therefore, it is little surprise that English football's behemoths have been circling, however, the signs suggest that Bissouma will remain at Brighton beyond the summer transfer window- a significant positive as Potter looks to assemble a more competitive squad this time out.

To do so, a weight of importance will certainly be placed upon the shoulders of the Mali International who, after joining the club in 2018 from Lille, finally unearthed his optimal form over the course of the previous season and at 24, has plenty of time to continue the upwards trajectory.

So far, he has done just that. During the Watford victory, he ran the midfield, recording an assist along with two chances, two successful dribbles, four tackles and a pass completion rate of 85%.

He is one of those players that, when performing well, shoulders the ability to elevate the dynamic of the squad and enhance those around them, meaning that Cardiff will have to do everything they can to prevent Brighton's star-blazing operator from reaching full gear.

  • Previous meetings

In spite of the divisional differences between the two, Cardiff have reigned supreme in prior clashes.

A two year hiatus from showdowns was sanctioned following Brighton's promotion to the Premier League in the 2016/17 campaign, though they would meet in the 2018/19 top flight season.

During the first affair, Cardiff ran out 2-1 victors courtesy of goals from Callum Paterson and a rather controversial winner from now-Middlesbrough man Sol Bamba, who appeared to be offside in the play.

Then, in a high-stakes relegation battle meeting, Brighton hosted Cardiff, where a stunning long-range effort from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing gifted the visitors the ascendancy before skipper Morrison wrapped up the three points.

At that time, it had looked as if Cardiff would secure survival with both teams vying to stay in the division, however, defeats to  Liverpool, Fulham and Crystal Palace meant that the Seagulls' Premier League status remained intact.

  • How to watch

The meeting is scheduled for 19:45 BST, but unfortunately it cannot be watched in the UK, as is the norm with the majority of the upcoming EFL Cup matches.

However, there is the option to purchase an audio match pass for tomorrow's fixture.

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