Mat Ryan missed a Premier League game for the first time in almost two years after he was relegated to the bench for Brighton and Hove Albion’s clash with Tottenham on Sunday.
The 28-year-old was left out of the side, along with top scorer Neil Maupay, for what manager Graham Potter described as “tactical decisions” in his post-match press conference.
Spaniard Robert Sanchez instead got the nod, making his debut between the sticks for the Seagulls. But he was unable to prevent his side from losing 2-1, as Gareth Bale headed home the winner with his first goal for Spurs since re-joining the club on loan from Real Madrid.
Tariq Lamptey had earlier equalised for the visitors after a Harry Kane penalty put the home side ahead in the first half.
The result leaves Brighton in 16th place, four points above the relegation places, while Tottenham moves up to second spot.
“Breather for Maty”
Speaking after the game, Potter said the decision to leave Ryan - and Maupay - out of the starting XI was a “tactical” one, as reported by Richie Mills of Sussex Live.
And earlier, Adam Stenning of the Brighton Argus had shared a bit more detail on the boss' reasoning when the teams were initially announced.
“It’s a breather for Maty, who has played a lot of football over the last two or three years, and I’m looking forward to seeing Rob,” the manager explained.
Ryan, who at the end of September was named PFA Men’s Football of the Year for the third time, played every league game for the Seagulls last season and started the first six of this term.
You have to go back to January 2019 for the last time the Socceroo didn’t start between the sticks in the Premier League when he spent four games as understudy to David Button.
He returned to the side on January 29, in a 4-2 loss to Fulham, and has been the club’s number one choice ever since.
So far this term the former Central Coast Mariners stopper has conceded 12 goals in his six outings, keeping one clean sheet along the way in a goalless draw with Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
Next up for Brighton is a home game against Burnley on Friday evening local time.