Boss John Gregory believes Dean Leacock can become as pivotal a player for Crawley as Steve Foster was for Albion.
Gregory played alongside Foster for the Seagulls between 1979 and 1981 when he was establishing a reputation as one of the best centre-backs in the country.
Foster was regarded as an uncompromising defender but it was his organisational skills that most impressed Gregory and earned him three caps for England.
The Reds boss has seen glimpses of his old team-mate in the way Leacock has gone about his business in Crawley’s opening two games of the season.
The former Fulham and Derby centre-back put in a superb display against Ipswich on Tuesday as Reds booked a second round trip to Norwich City.
Leacock even led the team talk at half-time in extra-time and it is that willingness to speak up and organise those around him that has really caught Gregory’s eye.
Gregory said: “When Dean speaks, players listen because of his experience. He has played in the Premier League and has got a lot of matches behind him.
“We have got a lot of youngsters and they look up to him. They might even be a little bit scared of him which is no bad thing!
“First and foremost Dean is in the team to play but if he can be vocal as well that is a skill in itself. One of the best in that respects was Steve Foster when I played with him at Brighton.
“He was talking from the first minute to the last. He might only touch the ball five times during a game but he organised everybody in the team to do the work for him.
“Fozzy would get the full-backs to tuck in and position two midfielders in front of him to make his job easier.
“He never got exposed as he had organised everyone so well around him. Dean is having to do a lot more work than Fozzy did but the fact he is vocal is a big plus for us.”
Leacock has already formed an encouraging partnership with Joe Walsh in the centre of defence and will be looking to keep a third consecutive clean sheet at home to Swindon Town today.
That has left Sonny Bradley as the odd man out following his arrival from Portsmouth in the summer and facing the prospect of adapting to a different role.
Bradley was played out of position at left-back against Ipswich and Gregory has hinted he may use him there again with Ryan Dickson pushed forward into midfield.
Gregory added: “Sonny is wasted sat on the bench with the ability he has. We gave him a go at left-back in pre-season as we didn’t want Ryan to play every game and he did well.
“He has a lot of assets which are important at this level.
“In League One you need players with a bit of bottle and the ability to put their head in and win tackles.
“Ryan is also a great crosser and has a lot of energy. He is a good option to have further up the pitch so it gives me a nice little problem.”
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