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The FA Cup

The five key players for Brighton against Hull City

The Seagulls will hope to cause an FA Cup upset on the South Coast this evening by disposing of Premier League opposition to progress to the last eight.

Brighton continue to linger on the fringes of the Championship play-offs and are tantalisingly close to a FA Cup quarter final as they seek to exorcise the demons of last season.

Defeat to Crystal Palace in the play-off semi-finals spelled the end of Gus Poyet's reign in charge and cast a cloud over a side who had won such acclaim for a positive brand of football under the Uruguayan.

Thankfully Oscar Garcia - proving an extremely wise appointment day by day - was on hand to pick up the mantle and transform Albion into a solid defensive outfit, with the free-flowing football still very much the modus operandi implemented by the former management setup.

Ahead of their FA Cup clash with Hull City this evening, here are the five players which will prove crucial if the Seagulls are to ensure a run in the competition extends into the last eight.

Gordon Greer:

The Seagulls skipper is one of the main reasons only QPR have conceded less goals than Garcia's side this season as their playoff push gathers momentum.

Greer has been excellent for a resolute Brighton side and, alongside Matthew Upson, has formed one half of a defensive partnership winning numerous plaudits and providing a platform for the club's more expressive individuals to weave their magic further upfield.

His season has gone from strength to strength, culminating in a first international cap for Scotland towards the end of 2013.

Inigo Calderon:

The Spanish right-back is the unsung hero in this Seagulls side and offers a goal threat on top of his steady defensive offerings.

Calderon has struck twice this season in the league for his side, with only Leonardo Ulloa and Andrew Crofts scoring more for a side struggling for inspiration in the final third.

Aside from Ulloa, there appears to be precious little threat at present and it is something that must be remedied if they are to ensure progression to the quarter-finals. Calderon can certainly help out here.

Rohan Ince:

The former Chelsea midfielder has helped to soften the blow following Liam Bridcutt's departure to Sunderland in the January transfer window and offers some of the combative qualities his previous midfield contemporaries possessed.

Ince provides little in the way of goalscoring threat but did notch in the fourth-round win at Port Vale and had been one of the key reasons behind Albion's continued defensive prowess this season.

He will be tasked with dealing with the creative threats in the Hull midfield of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore and has the ingredients to unsettle the duo.

Solly March:

The youngster has broken through into the first-team setup this season and continues to impress with his dazzling performances on the wing which have kept out more illustrious names in Will Buckley and Kazenga Lua Lua in check.

While the duo could once again sit on the bench, March may be the beneficiary of Buckley's injury struggles and earn himself another chance to impress.

His service from wide positions and ability to trick his way past defenders could prove paramount to any chance of a Seagulls win but he must be willing to do the defensive work against the visitors' 5-3-2 formation.

Leonardo Ulloa:

The undisputed king of this side, his return from injury has been timely in the club's pursuit of the top six and his eight goals leave him well clear as the top scorer.

He has scored the club's last two goals in consecutive 1-0 successes and as Albion go in search of a fifth home win on the bounce and a chance to reach the quarters for the first time since 1986, it is essential that Ulloa is firing.

Hull's defence have been equally as water-tight on occasions this season and the Argentine is pivotal to breaking down their steely resolve with his aerial presence and excellent hold-up play.

image: © Jon Candy

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