Murray can lead the way for the high-flying Seagulls
Brighton are seeking their tenth home win of the season
Sky Sports 1, 7.45pm Friday
Glenn Murray has had a huge impact on Brighton’s promotion push this season – scoring 15 goals – and the veteran striker can move second in the Sky Bet Championship scoring charts by netting the first goal against Sheffield Wednesday at the Amex Stadium.
Brighton went agonisingly close to automatic promotion last season – finishing outside the top two on goal difference and losing 3-1 on aggregate to Wednesday in the playoff semi-finals.
One of their few deficiencies was the lack of a prolific goalscorer but Chris Hughton addressed the issue this summer by swooping for Murray on a season-long loan from Bournemouth.
The 33-year-old has never relied on pace but he does posses a natural goalscoring instinct. He netted 30 league goals for Crystal Palace during the Eagles’ 2012-13 promotion-winning campaign and he is looking just as effective this term.
Murray has been especially deadly at the Amex – scoring ten goals in Brighton’s last eight home league fixtures – and looks by far the biggest threat to Wednesday, who are looking to extend a six-match league unbeaten run.
Owls manager Carlos Carvalhal may be in two minds over how to approach the game.
A draw would extend their cushion over seventh-placed Derby to six points but the incentive of closing the gap on the top two to six points could see Carvalhal adopt a more adventurous approach.
The Owls certainly showed no fear of the big occasion when deservedly winning 1-0 at Newcastle last month and they produced an excellent second-half performance to see off Huddersfield at Hillsborough on Saturday.
New signing Sam Winnall made an encouraging debut after coming on at half-time and he is pushing for a first start.
The early signs are that Winnall and Fernando Forestieri could form a potent strike partnership and Brighton will have to be mindful of restricting the service into the Wednesday front two.
With both teams looking strong in attack, the outcome could hinge on the midfield battle.
And the hosts may have the edge in the centre of the park after Beram Kayal’s recovery from injury.
Kayal’s midfield partnership with Dale Stephens was a focal point of Albion’s success last season but the pair have started just three league games together this season – all of them victories.
With Brighton’s first-choice midfield available for selection, the hosts deserve to be favourites.
However, they look correctly priced at evens to record their tenth home win of the season and a better-value favourite could be star striker Murray, who is 9-2 to open the scoring.
G Murray first goalscorer
1pt 9-2 bet365
Glenn Murray has scored in seven of Brighton's last eight home league games
Sebastien Pocognoli may feature in place of injured left-back Gaeten Bong (knee) after recovering from a thigh injury. Midfielder Dale Stephens has recovered from illness while Lewis Dunk is set to return in defence after suspension.
Manager Carlos Carvalhal could hand Sam Winnall his first start for Wednesday after impressing off the bench against Huddersfield.