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Roberto De Zerbi ignoring speculation about his own future, insists he is focused on Brighton

Roberto De Zerbi insists Brighton's ongoing injury issues are a far bigger concern than speculation about his future as he prepares to welcome back top scorer Joao Pedro from a two-month absence.

Seagulls head coach De Zerbi has two years remaining on his Albion contract but wants to speak with owner Tony Bloom about the club’s vision before committing to next season.

The Italian, who has been linked with replacing Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, is "really relaxed" about the situation as he battles to lead Brighton back into Europe amid a succession of fitness setbacks.

Brazil international Pedro and fellow forward Julio Enciso are poised to reduce the injury list by returning to action in Wednesday evening’s Premier League match at Brentford.

"It's not a problem, it's part of my work,” De Zerbi told a press conference when asked about the debate surrounding his future.

"At the moment, I want to be focused and to keep my eyes on the target we have and we can reach. I have the contract. The focus is on the pitch. I'm really relaxed and without problems.

"The problems are the injured players or the preparation of the next game because we have a very tough schedule. This is the problem, not my contract or my future."

Brighton are ninth in the table with nine matches remaining.

Pedro has not played since scoring his 19th goal of the season in the Seagulls' 4-1 thrashing of Crystal Palace on February 3 due to a hamstring issue.

Enciso sat out Sunday's 2-1 loss at leaders Liverpool with a muscular problem having missed most of the season because of a serious knee injury.

"Joao played an under-21 friendly on Saturday and he is in a good way, so I think he can be available to play tomorrow," De Zerbi said.

"I don’t know how much time yet; I haven't decided yet but it's great news for us. Julio Enciso is also available, we'll see if one of them can start."

Defender Jack Hinshelwood, who claimed Brighton's winner against Brentford in December, and Kaoru Mitoma will miss the rest of the season.

Solly March is another long-term absentee, while Billy Gilmour and James Milner are also set to remain sidelined.

Thomas Frank's Brentford, who sit 15th – only five points above the relegation zone – have also endured an injury-hit campaign, compounded by Ivan Toney's eight-month ban for breaching betting rules.

"Without injured players, Brentford for sure could be higher in the table," said De Zerbi. "They paid a big price for injured players – like us.

"Brentford are a very good team, a very good coach, I have a big respect for Frank. To make points away with Brentford we have to play one of the best games this season."

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