Brighton and Hove Albion star Tommy Elphick has described how he felt “sick to the stomach” when he was arrested over an alleged sexual assault.

The 24-year-old defender was one of five Seagulls players arrested and questioned by detectives on Thursday, alongside former teammate Steve Cook.

On Friday Elphick was cleared of any wrongdoing and ruled out of the investigation.

Elphick, of Woodingdean, spoke exclusively to The Argus about his shock at being hauled in and locked up for nearly 12 hours.

He said: “For me the hardest thing to take is when I’m seeing my name linked with these sorts of allegations.

“I’m quite mentally strong. I can take a bit of stick. Injury setbacks I can take on the chin.

“When someone puts your name to an allegation, espe- cially of sexual assault, it makes me feel sick to the bot- tom of my stomach.”

Police are investigating an allegation by a woman who says she was sexually assaulted in July last year. Detectives said although the woman reported the offence immediately, they only identified the arrested men as suspects last week.

Albion players Lewis Dunk, 20, Ben Sampayo, 19, Anton Rodgers, 18, and George Barker, 20, were arrested as they got off the team bus returning from an FA Cup third round replay at Wrexham at 4.20am on Thurs- day.

Former Seagull Steve Cook, 20, who now plays for Bournemouth, was arrested in Dorset at about 10.30am.

All six arrested men were released on bail on Thursday evening without charge until March 21.

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