It is the moment every young footballer dreads.

The manager calls him into the office to give him the bad news.

"Sorry son, we don't think you have what it takes to become a professional footballer."

It happened last week to James Martin at Albion.

He was the only second-year scholar not to be awarded a professional contract.

No doubt, he feels his world has caved in. His dreams and aspirations have been shattered.

But it does not have to be the end.

The same thing happend to Albion hopeful Lee Carey and five other hopefuls last season.

Carey is rebuilding his career at Hastings United after being shown the door at Withdean and is celebrating a successful season that ended in promotion to the Ryman premier division via the play-offs.

But he vividly recalls the day when he was summoned into Mark McGhee's office to be told the bad news.

He was in the canteen playing pool with Dan Leach, Ashley Jarvis, Steve May, Dan Taylor and Adam Mountford when Dean Wilkins, then youth team coach, called them, one by one, into the manager's office.

McGhee, assistant Bob Booker, Wilkins and director of football Martin Hinshelwood were all in the room.

Carey said: "It was like being on The Apprentice.

"We were being fired. It was nerve-wracking and horrible. I felt I had wasted my time.

"I didn't know the meetings were happening until literally five minutes before they started.

"I was the first one in and was told they already had a lot of players and wouldn't be offering me anything.

"A couple of boys were offered contracts who I don't think did any better than me at the time. I wasn't too happy about that but these things happen.

"The club were sympathetic and supportive and offered me plenty of suggestions about what I should do once I was released.

"It wasn't very nice for either party. They said I could go straight away but I wanted to show the right attitude and came in until my deal ran out."

Self-pity could have crushed Carey. He had been with the Seagulls since he was eight years old and progressed through the club's centre of excellence set-up and into the youth team.

His brother John, who was in the same year group as Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry, suffered the same fate and gave up on his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

But Lee, with the support of his Bexhill family and friends, refused to give in and continues to believe he can make the grade.

He had a six-week trial at Bournemouth, a trial match with Grimsby, a spell with Conference south Bognor and was close to joining Gravesend in the Conference.

He said: "I was grateful to Dean Wilkins, he was a big help to me. We had worked together for so long.

"It must have been hard for him in particular to tell me I wasn't wanted at the club after ten years."

The trials came to nothing but Carey joined Hastings United last August and helped them clinch promotion to the Ryman premier with a play-off final victory at Tooting and Mitcham 11 days ago.

He said: "It has been great to be with a club that wants you. I've got another year's contract with Hastings and we will see what happens.

"I still feel I can play League football but it won't do me any harm playing in a higher division with United."

Carey offers fellow midfielder Martin sympathy, encouragement and advice.

He said: "I feel for James. It is worse for him than me because I wasn't the only one.

"James should remember that every cloud has a silver lining. He should keep his head up. People give up but he should look on the bright side.

"I didn't let it get me down and have enjoyed my football this year with the promotion.

"Dan Leach has had a good season with Hailsham and got a deal with Eastbourne Borough and Ashley's done well at Burgess Hill.

"James should try and enjoy the game and adopt a never-say-never attitude and hopefully something will come along for him."

All the staff at Albion love the game but they hate telling a player he is no longer wanted.

Hinshelwood said: "You can't put it into words. It's so difficult. There is no easy way. It's harsh but you've just got to be honest.

"You help as much as you can with advice, such as finishing education.

"James has already seen our education officer Alan Sanders. Hopefully he can get fixed up with a club elsewhere and we will do what we can to help. Our advice to anyone we release is to keep believing in your own abilities."