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Ex-Blues kids can shine with Seagulls
Gus Poyet has challenged Albion new boy Anton Rodgers to overcome a lack of physical stature and eventually push for a Championship place.
Midfielder Rodgers and his former Chelsea Academy colleague Ben Sampayo, both 18, have joined the Seagulls’ development squad for next season.
They join coach Luke Williams’ collection of bright prospects after reaching the end of contracts at Stamford Bridge and are both seen as longer term projects.
Dagenham-born right-back Sampayo featured on trial for Albion Reserves in the Combination last season and midfielder Rodgers played in a friendly against Birmingham City.
Rodgers joined Chelsea as an under-13 and is the son of Swansea manager Brendan, whose side take on Reading in today’s Championship play-off final at Wembley.
Although he is only 5ft 8ins, Rodgers junior has qualities Poyet admires and the Albion manager believes he can make the grade if keeps continues to progress.
Poyet told The Argus: “I know Anton is a technically very gifted player.
“He is not the biggest but we can develop him here.
“The higher you go up the league, the more difficult it becomes if you are a small player, like Dennis Wise or Aaron Lennon.
“Smaller players need to be one of three things. They need to be very strong and clever like Dennis or very quick like Aaron or be very technically gifted.
“If you don’t have one of those things you have problems. Even if you have got a bit of pace and a bit of strength and a bit of technique, you’ve got no chance.
“Anton is a midfielder who likes to be in control of the ball. He moves, he changes position, he keeps the ball and he plays forward.”
Albion recently offered a new deal to lightweight development squad midfielder Ryan Simmonds, who was let go by Aston Villa because they deemed him too small.
Rodgers and Sampayo will be targeting places in the first ever match at The Amex when Albion’s development squad take on Eastbourne Borough in the Sussex Senior Cup final on July 16.
The Seagulls have revealed they are holding back about 2,000 tickets for sale on a match-by-match basis when the Championship campaign gets under way, despite selling out of season tickets.
They urge fans eager to buy a season ticket for next or a future season to join the waiting list by emailing email@example.com as soon as possible.