Brighton and Hove Albion boss Graham Potter believes the club have to be cautious with defender Tariq Lamptey as he nears a return from injury.
The England U21 full-back has been out of action since featuring in a Premier League stalemate with Fulham in December.
Before his injury, he had been a key member of Potter’s set-up, his run of impressive performances drawing interests from a host of top European clubs and Ghana, where his parents hail from, at international level.
“He took a step back as he was getting close to coming back,” Potter said, as reported by Brighton and Hove Independent.
"He's making good progress but after his last few months we know we have to manage him.
“It’s just one of those things that we have to try and improve from, but it can happen. We have to err on the side of caution and he’s not too far away now.”
After developing through Chelsea’s academy system and earning a Premier League debut in 2019, Lamptey moved to Brighton in January last year in a three-and-a-half-year deal, owing to limited opportunities at Stamford Bridge.
With a string of fine performances at Falmer Stadium, Lamptey was rewarded with a new three-and-a-half-year contract last month amid speculations about his long-term future with the Seagulls.
Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid have all been recently linked to the 20-year-old.
So far this season, he has made 11 league appearances for Potter’s outfit, starting in each of the games. Against Tottenham in November last year, the Hillingdon-born registered his first professional goal as his club suffered a 2-1 loss.
Lamptey’s rise in stock has not only been noticed at club level.
Born to Ghanaian parents in the United Kingdom, the right-back remains eligible to feature for Ghana at senior level.
He is part of a roster of dual nationals on the radar of the Black Stars, the list also including fellow England-born and Arsenal striker Edward Nketiah.