Glenn Murray believes Brighton can strike the right balance as they target an extended FA Cup run alongside Premier League survival.
The Seagulls face a fourth-round replay away to Sky Bet Championship side West Brom following a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium on January 26, with a home tie against Derby awaiting the winner.
Brighton host Watford on Saturday looking to recover from a midweek 4-2 Premier League defeat at relegation-battlers Fulham, where an early double from Murray had put them 2-0 ahead.
Murray accepts continued progress in the top flight is imperative for a club which not so long ago were without a home ground and facing an uncertain financial future.
However, the 35-year-old forward believes the FA Cup remains an important target.
Speaking to The Offside Rule Exclusives, Murray said: “It’s a very fine balance, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s about staying in the Premier League. If we can get a cup run in and around that then brilliant, if we can’t then that’s just unfortunate.
“Trophies are important to players too, I don’t think people give enough credit to players. We come to work and we don’t just want to stay in the Premier League, we want to win something as well.
“It’s difficult, because if you have too good a cup run, that can be detrimental to your league form – like we saw with Burnley in the opening half of the season when they were in the Europa League.
“We are still in the competition and we’ll be trying to go as far as possible.”
Brighton are currently 13th in the table, seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Despite all of the progress under Chris Hughton, Murray maintains there can be no sense of switching off in the fight for survival.
He said: “We all spoke openly about just needing to stay in the Premier League by hook or by crook, whether that’s a last-minute goal on the last day to stay up. Luckily, it never came to that and we stayed up quite comfortably.
“We were safe by about March, so it was relatively comfy. Obviously, we were always in and around the relegation battle and we were very aware of it.
“We’ve gone into this season with the exact same mentality. I think you need to do that for at least three years in the Premier League before the club can really start to grow and become an established Premier League team.”
Murray is revelling in his second spell at Brighton, having left to join Crystal Palace in May 2011.
He is the leading scorer this season, his brace at Craven Cottage taking his tally to 10 goals.
Murray believes “honest” Seagulls boss Hughton, who took the club up to the Premier League in 2017, deserves great credit for helping to keep the forward at the top of his game.
“Ever since the day I joined, I was worried how long I would play even back then, and he settled me down and said, ‘let’s take every day as it comes’, and he’s believed in me,” said Murray, who moved back to Brighton from Bournemouth in the summer of 2016
“I like to think I’ve repaid him with goals. He’s always been honest, which is sometimes hard to find in football.
“He’s always told me what he’s thinking and where I stand, and I appreciate that.”
Listen to Murray’s full interview with The Offside Side Rule Exclusives on Acast