Brighton boss Roberto de Zerby says he wants Alexis McAllister to return to the club game “when he’s ready”, with the transition from the World Cup not easy.
Seagulls midfielder Mc Allister was part of the Argentina side that reached the final of the tournament in Qatar last week, beating France on penalties.
De Zerby said on Tuesday the 23-year-old had “two weeks off” and the manager was asked on Friday if that meant McAllister would return for the Premier League trip to Everton on January 3.
The Italian said: “I have to speak to him, but there is no problem when he comes back.
“The problem is our players, they are not used to playing in this competition. This competition is very important for them and there is a lot of pressure and I want Alexis to come back when he is ready to play.
“For the players who stayed at the World Cup, it’s not easy for them to resettle in the Premier League with 100 percent focus in our team. But it’s natural, it’s different.
“Manchester City, Liverpool players – I watched the game yesterday (between those teams in the Carabao Cup) and it looks like they’ve never played in the World Cup. It’s completely different for us.”
Brighton’s first match since the World Cup, Wednesday’s Carabao Cup loss to Charlton in a 0-0 penalty shoot-out draw, featured several Qatar-bound players.
Moises Caisdo and Tarik Lamptey started, Leandro Trossardi, Kaoru Mitoma and Pervis Estupinan came off the bench and Jeremy Sarmiento was an unused substitute.
De Zerby, speaking at a press conference before his side resume their league campaign at Southampton on Boxing Day, was then asked if he had found, with some of the players already back from the World Cup, struggling at all, and he said. : “I don’t think so.
“But we have to be focused on this possible problem, because for Mitoma, for Moises Kaisdo, for Pervis, in 20 days they have changed a lot.
They played in 25 degrees in Qatar and 10 days later in the UK in five degrees in the Carabao Cup. The World Cup is a completely different competition and it is not easy to reset in the right way. It’s not natural.”
Brighton’s 20th cup match on Wednesday – after which De Zerby apologized to the traveling fans – was without goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, a member of Spain’s World Cup squad.
Sanchez will be available for the Boxing Day game, De Zerby said: “He’s fine, he’s back home very well and ready to play – but Jason Steele played well (against Charlton) and I’m really happy for that. him.”
Brighton are without striker Danny Welbeck and defender Adam Webster due to injury.
“They can’t play,” De Zerby said. “I don’t know, Welbeck maybe against Arsenal (on New Year’s Eve) but I’m not sure. Webster, I think not – 100 per cent for Southampton and maybe for the next game too.