Joel Veltman believes the big-game experience of Sunday’s Wembley FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United will stand Brighton in good stead for a potential European adventure.
Albion suffered an agonising loss as United scraped through on penalties to set up a showdown with treble-chasing neighbours Manchester City.
The Seagulls must swiftly turn their attention back to the quest to secure continental qualification via the Premier League and face nine matches during a hectic final five weeks of the season.
With a trip to lowly Nottingham Forest to come on Wednesday evening, defender Veltman is happy to have little time to dwell on the heartbreak suffered in north London.
Yet the 31-year-old Dutchman is optimistic the high-profile occasion will prove beneficial for the south coast club moving forward.
“Yeah, a hundred per cent it can be a good prep for next season if we make it to the European places,” he said.
“The environment, everything is good experience for the younger lads.
“It’s a good thing, I would say, that we have a game quite quickly. It’s another big game.
“We’re doing well in the Premier League so we need to focus on that, we have to focus on that because we’re out of the FA Cup.
“But I think we’re in a good place in the Premier League, we’re doing well, so time to focus for European places now.”
Winger Solly March was the only player to fail from 12 yards, blazing over before Victor Lindelof’s subsequent spot-kick extinguished the Seagulls’ dreams of lifting a first major trophy.
“He was disappointed, of course,” Veltman said of team-mate March, who also missed from the spot in December when Albion were knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties by League One Charlton.
“Always if you’re the one who misses you’re disappointed. But we cheered him up.
“The fans did after the game as well – chanting ‘Solly, Solly March’. I think that’s a good thing because you win together but also lose together. I don’t care if he misses or me or whatever.
“Penalties is always a bit 50-50, I would say. It’s 100 per cent disappointing. At the end, there will be some pride but now the disappointment is quite big.”
Brighton have taken 49 points from their 29 league fixtures and hold games in hand on their rivals for European football.
The eighth-placed Seagulls have won plenty of plaudits for their swashbuckling style of play under Roberto De Zerbi, including from United boss Erik ten Hag.
“Erik ten Hag, I spoke to him, he gave a lot of compliments – how we played, where we are now in the Premier League and how far we came in the FA Cup, so lots of compliments,” said Veltman, who overcame an injury sustained in last weekend’s 2-1 win at Chelsea to come on as a second-half substitute at Wembley.
“For now, I don’t care because I wanted to be in the final.
“But I think we’re in a good place.”