Brighton boss Graham Potter will lean on Lewis Dunk’s leadership qualities for the relegation run-in.
Centre-half Dunk, 29, has enjoyed another impressive campaign in the Seagulls’ defence.
The Albion captain also chipped in with his fourth goal of the season in last Sunday’s crucial 2-1 win at Southampton.
“His leadership will be really important and I think he’s getting better and better,” said Potter.
“It’s his second season being captain and he leads more naturally by example, he wears his heart on his sleeve and he takes on the responsibility of performing to the highest level, and he’s been the best player since I have been at the club.
“So he leads in that regard, but he’s also developing just how to lead as a man, as a person off the pitch and on it. He’s been a credit to himself. I am really proud of him.”
Dunk may have missed out on the latest England squad but another Brighton player did receive international recognition.
Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez has been handed his first call-up for Spain ahead of their World Cup qualifiers against Greece, Georgia and Kosovo.
It is a remarkable rise for the 23-year-old, who was on loan at League One Rochdale last season and only promoted to Brighton’s first team in November.
“I am very pleased for him, and for Ben Roberts and Casper Ankergren who work with him, as well as everyone in the academy,” added Potter.
“It’s a great story, we’re delighted as a club and it’s a reward for Rob for his work with us and his development since he has been with us, and everyone connected with the club who’s helped with that.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve been surprised, you never know when you first put him in, but his attributes are top-level stuff and of the highest level.
“The only thing he lacked was games and experience, and that’s the bit where you never know how things will go.
“What we see every day means I am not surprised, he’s got everything you need to be a top goalkeeper.”
Potter hopes defender Dan Burn will be fit to face Newcastle on Saturday evening despite going off at Southampton with a hamstring problem.