George Cox feels ten feet tall – after defying a claim he was too small to be a footballer.

The full-back from Portslade has signed a two-year deal and has targeted a first team place before that contract expires.

Cox was part of the Albion under-21s side which came from 2-0 down to draw with Oxford United in the Checkatrade Trophy before winning a shoot-out.

High quality delivery from out wide is one of the 19-year-old’s trademarks, as he showed when he set up a great chance for Daniel Mandroiu at the Kassam Stadium.

But it looked like it would count for nothing during his days as a boy at Hove Park School.

The Argus:

George Cox converts his penalty in the shoot out at Oxford

He bounced from Albion to Aston Villa – and then received the shattering verdict that he would not make it as a professional. It all seems a while ago now.

Cox told The Argus: “The contract is a massive thing for me. I’ve been here since I was in the under-11s.

“At under-16s I wasn’t given a full contract so I went on trial at Aston Villa for a little while.

“They were like, ‘No – you’re not big enough!’ “I was on a schoolboy contract in my scholarship years so it was difficult for me not being on the same contract as all the boys.

“That is when you first start getting paid but I was still on expenses.

“My first game in the under-18s was actually against Aston Villa.

“The other left-back was injured so I got a game and I had a good game.

“Straight after that, I was offered my scholarship. From there it has just gone on.

“I was offered a one-year pro deal at the end of the scholarship and last year I took my chances when I was given them. That has led to another contract.”

Cox will not turn 20 until January but is seen as a relatively late developer.

First team boss Chris Hughton said: “It just goes to show some can develop that little bit younger.

“Some stick in there and their level of performance can improve over a period of time and certainly that been the case with Coxy.”

Development boss Simon Rusk echoes those sentiments.

Rusk said: “Coxy is a good example of steadily working at your game.

“You have to plug away over days, weeks, months, years even and just gradually improve all the time.

“You have to stay concentrated and consistent and, in the end, it might get you to where you want to be.

“As a player, you have just got to give yourself every chance going and George is doing that.”

Cox is thrilled to play for his local club and is aiming high.

He said: “When I get chances I have got to take them with both hands and, within two years, I hopefully get into the first team. That has got to be the aim.”

The Checkatrade Trophy is a part of that development.

For all its critics, you will not hear a bad word said about the competition among the Albion development set-up.

They sent a team to Oxford which was some way short of full strength and came from 2-0 down against some experienced Football League players.

The Trophy critics point at low crowds but a gathering which just about made it into four figures was still a step up for the youngsters.

Cox said: “It was a great experience playing in front of all those people.

“Playing against first teams is good for us, gives us good experience, and to get a result is even better.

“The boys stuck with it at 2-0 down and to get a goal before half-time was key.”