Joel Veltman believes Brighton’s big game experience will put them in an advantage for a potential European adventure in Sunday’s Wembley FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United.
Albion suffered an agonizing defeat as United prevailed on penalties to stage a showdown with triple-chasing neighbors Manchester City.
The Seagulls must quickly turn their attention back to their quest for continental qualification via the Premier League and play nine games in the frantic final five weeks of the season.
With a trip to humble Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night, defender Veltman is happy to have little time to reflect on the heartbreak in north London.
Still, the 31-year-old Dutchman is optimistic the high-profile occasion will prove beneficial to the club’s future on the south coast.
“Yes, 100% if we make it to the European places it can be a good preparation for next season,” he said.
“The environment, everything is a good experience for the younger guys.
“We have the qualities to finish in the top seven. I think we deserve it but we have to work hard for it.
“It’s good, I would say, that we have a game pretty quickly. It’s another big game.
“We’re doing well in the Premier League so that’s what we have to focus on, we have to focus on that because we’re eliminated from the FA Cup.
“But I think we’re in a good place in the Premier League, we’re doing well, so it’s time to focus on European places now.”
Brighton were defeated 7-6 on penalties after a narrow draw at the end of extra time ended goalless.
Winger Solly March was the only player to miss from 12 meters and rolled over before Victor Lindelof’s subsequent free-kick ended Seagulls’ dreams of a first major trophy.
“He was obviously disappointed,” Veltman said of team-mate March, who also went out from the penalty spot when Albion were eliminated on penalties by League One Charlton in the Carabao Cup in December.
“When you’re the one who misses you, you’re always disappointed. But we cheered him up.
“So did the fans after the game – they chanted ‘Solly, Solly March’. I think that’s good because you win together, but you also lose together. I don’t care if he misses or me or whatever.
“Strafen is always a little bit 50-50 I would say. It’s 100 percent disappointing. In the end there will be a bit of pride, but now the disappointment is quite big.”
Brighton have taken 49 points from their 29 league games and are holding games against their rivals in European football.
The eighth-placed Seagulls have garnered praise, including from United boss Erik ten Hag, for their daring play under Roberto De Zerbi.
Veltman has received positive words from fellow countryman Ten Hag, who he played under at Ajax, but admits they are of little consolation at the moment.
“Erik ten Hag, I spoke to him, he gave a lot of compliments – how we played, where we are now in the Premier League and how far we’ve come in the FA Cup, so a lot of compliments,” said Veltman, who overcame an injury he picked up in last weekend’s 2-1 win at Chelsea to come on as a second-half substitute at Wembley.
“Right now I don’t care because I wanted to be in the final.
“But I think we’re in a good place.”