Albion prospect Dessie Hutchinson has revealed how the club’s youngsters are ready to learn the hard way – by going out on loan.

Hutchinson, 20, reckons the development squad have benefited enormously from FIVE matches against opposition from Leagues One and Two this term. He believes more such experience is crucial as they aim to make the big step up into Chris Hughton’s senior squad.

Hutchinson is one of five players retained for next season as part of what the club have termed as the launch of a revamp of their under-23s, which suggests further activity to come.

Ben Barclay, Will Collar and Hutchinson have all extended current deals while George Cox steps up from the under-18s.

Billy Collings, the Sussex born goalkeeper brought back to the county from Reading on a short-term deal in mid-season, has done enough to earn a contract for next term.

Albion have confirmed the departures of Tom Cadman, Dylan Barnett, Connor Tighe, Vahid Hambo and Joe Ward, all of which had leaked out through social media in recent days.

Hutchinson lifted the Parafix Sussex Senior Cup as captain after a 3-0 win over League Two outfit Crawley Town last week.

He believes a loan deal could be his next step after the first team’s promotion to the Premier League raised the bar for youngsters hoping to make the senior squad.

The midfielder told The Argus: “It makes it harder. Every standard goes up and better players are coming in all the time.

“It is up to us to show what we can do and hopefully that will be enough, whether it is coming through here or going out and getting some experience with a lower league team.

“Everyone wants to be playing first team football somewhere. A few of the lads have been out on loan and they says it is vital to get that experience.

“It is very different to what we get here in the under-23 league, which is more technical. Everyone who has gone out has benefited from it big-time.”

Hutchinson has backed the much-maligned Checkatade Trophy as a way for young players to gain experience. The Seagulls have made no secret of their support of the competition, the future and structure of which are under review.

Hutchinson said: “The Checkatrade Trophy helped us massively. We played Southend, Stevenage, Orient and Wimbledon and then went out to Coventry, who were a very good side at the time.

“It gave us a taste of what we would need when we played Crawley at the end of the season. It’s hard to come in and play against more physical players but we had already got used to that type of game.”

Hutchinson has been called into the Republic’s next under-21 squad get-together and is part of a strong Irish contingent at the club, developed through the links academy manager John Morling has on the Emerald Isle. They include fellow midfielders Jayson Molumby and Daniel Mandroiu plus striker Aaron Connolly, who has been away at the Euros with his nation’s under-17s.

Defender Barclay, left-back or wing-back Cox and the versatile Collar all featured in the Trophy.

Collar was impressive in midfield at Southend and put away the winning penalty in the shoot-out at Stevenage.

Collings recently gained National League south experience at Dartford.

Of the five let go, Hambo has attracted the most fascination among fans. The striker was with Sampdoria as a teenager and has been capped by Finland under-21s but was hampered by injury throughout his two-year stint with the club.

Ward spent part of the season on loan at Lincoln while Cadman, Tighe and Barnett have been with non-league Sussex sides.

Morling said: “We are delighted to have extended Ben, Will and Dessie’s contracts by another year. They have all managed to establish themselves in (development boss) Simon Rusk’s squad over the past three seasons.

“George stepped up from the under-18s this season and acquitted himself very well. Billy arrived in January and we are looking forward to seeing him develop here.

“I would like to thank Tom, Dylan, Connor, Vahid and Joe for all of their hard work and wish them all the very best for the future.”