Albion have begun the process of keeping hold of their home-grown prospects by awarding a contract extension to Dean Hammond.

The Hastings-born midfielder has added two years to his existing deal, which was due to expire at the end of the season.

Others such as teenage striker Jake Robinson are expected to follow suit.

The Seagulls' desire to retain the services of Hammond until June 2008 represents a remarkable turn around for the tall 22-year-old.

His future looked in doubt at the start of last season, when he was only given a three-month contract.

He forced his way into Mark McGhee's plans and has not looked back.

Hammond, now playing in the central midfield position he prefers, said: "Mark McGhee played a big role because he was brave enough to give me a chance when I'd not really played for Albion in a long time and things have just spiralled from there.

"It's all down to hard work, a bit of luck and help from all of the staff at the club."

Hammond played a vital part in Albion's Championship survival last season, scoring three goals in the last four games.

He has hit the target twice already this term going into today's home game against Coventry, when he could face former team mate Paul Watson.

Defender Watson, released in the summer after six seasons with the Seagulls has signed for Coventry on a non-contract basis and is included in their injury-hit squad.

Watson, 30, was invited to join the Sky Blues for pre-season training by his former manager at Albion, Brentford and Fulham, Micky Adams.

Andy Impey, who also played under Adams previously at Leicester, has been added to the Coventry squad as well on a non-contract basis.