Graham Potter confident Ben White will not be distracted by Leeds reunion

Albion defender White was a standout performer for the West Yorkshire club last season.

By Press Association Published: 14 January 2021 - 2.14pm
Football Premier League

Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton boss Graham Potter insists Ben White will not be sidetracked by sentiment when he returns to Leeds for the first time since his “perfect loan” at Elland Road.

Albion defender White was a standout performer for the West Yorkshire club last season as they ended a 16-year exile from the Premier League by romping to the Sky Bet Championship title.

The 23-year-old was heavily linked with making the move permanent before being rewarded with a new four-year contract at the Amex Stadium to fend off reported interest from a host of clubs.

He has since established himself as a key player for the Seagulls, featuring in 17 of their 18 top-flight fixtures ahead of Saturday’s much-anticipated reunion with Marcelo Bielsa’s men.

“He can be proud of his time there. He helped them and they helped him. It was a perfect loan,” said Potter.

“He speaks highly of everything at Leeds United and is very respectful of how they helped him and progressed his career because it was a fantastic time for him.

“But he is our player now and I am sure he will want to try to get the points against them.”

White was part of the Brighton team which suffered a narrow 1-0 loss at Manchester City on Wednesday evening.

That defeat stretched Albion’s winless run to nine league games, leaving them just two points above the relegation zone and having played two games more than 18th-placed Fulham.

Potter remains adamant the poor results are not reflective of performances and believes his struggling team can take encouragement from their display at the Etihad Stadium.

“I think we’ve probably had one game, or a game-and-a-half (this season), where we’ve not been ourselves,” said Potter. “Other than that, our performance level has been good.

“But if you don’t get the points there is criticism and pressure, and (people saying) you have to do something to get the wins. We know that. We are in a results business.

“We’ll keep fighting and Wednesday is another bit of information that says we can perform and fight at this level. We have got some qualities. We need to carry on improving.”

Leeds were long regarded as one of football’s sleeping giants and have made a solid start to life back in the top tier courtesy of their expansive, energetic and free-scoring style.

Bielsa’s side currently hold an 11-point cushion on the drop zone but will be seeking a positive response to last weekend’s humiliating 3-0 FA Cup third-round loss at the hands of League Two Crawley.

Potter is full of admiration for Leeds’ progress and the work of his Argentinian counterpart.

“He’s done amazing. It’s a massive club and they’ve been disappointing for a long time,” said Potter.

“They get back in the Premier League – it wasn’t easy but they’ve done it and they’ve done it well – and now they are bringing their own game to the Premier League, which is a credit to him and everybody there.

“You have to recover quickly for Leeds United, who are physically amazing. They run so much and fight so much that we have to match them and be smart. We’re playing against a really good team.”

Brighton will be boosted by the return of midfielder Yves Bissouma following a one-match suspension.