Albion’s youngsters have been told to seize the spotlight.

Because they never know when the call might come for bigger things.

The Seagulls’ under-21s face Newport County at the Amex tonight (7pm) in the second round of the Trophy.

This is the start of the knockout stage and Albion earnt a home tie by topping their group.

Attention turns to the under-18s on Friday when they host Leicester City at Crawley in the FA Youth Cup (7pm).

The Seagulls’ two age-group squads are closer together than ever this term with several 18s stepping up to play under-23 football – or under-21 for the purposes of the Trophy.

Albion have almost a full under-23 team away either on loan or with their own club’s first team and that has opened opportunities for others.

Wins at League One outfits AFC Wimbledon and Southend, followed by a draw at Leyton Orient, took the under-21s though to tonight’s tie.

Development squad boss Simon Rusk said: “I’m really looking forward to the game.

“We love the competition, we love what challenge it brings and we love what it exposes the players to.

“It’s going to be tough.

“I can’t speak for how Newport will tackle the game on terms of personnel.

“But if we get through it offers another great opportunity to put the players in the spotlight.

“We are a young group this year.

“I think winning the group and getting the home tie is an incredible achievement.

“I’m really proud of the boys for doing that and hopefully on the night we can put in a good performance.”

Albion turned on the style in recent league wins over Southampton and Tottenham.

But, at other times, they have found life tough.

They went down 5-3 at home to an excellent Liverpool side and then let slip a lead to lose 3-1 to West Ham.

Rusk saw plenty to work on after the reverse to the Hammers.

He revealed: “I said the players at the end it’s easy to play games when you are playing well and there are lots of options and you are winning.

“In the second half, when it got tough, we didn’t want the ball.

“We didn’t get things right really.

“But that is what this football is. No disaster. We go away and reflect.”

Albion’s under-18s are enjoying an excellent season in the upper reaches of their league and joint boss Mikey Harris was recently called in by England.

There may be some of them involved tonight.

Either way, Rusk will be hoping they seize their own opportunity on Friday (7pm).

He said: “We work very closely together, probably more so this season because we are a younger group in the 23s.

“We have had great success with the players who have gone out on some fantastic loans and we have two or three around the first team.

“It’s the problem you want.

“We want to be a little bit light.

“We want to be a little bit stretched at times.

“We work closely with the 18s in terms of players coming up, who at the right time needs to come up.

“That’s a really strong relationship and it needs to be this year in particular.”

No under-18 has made headlines quite like striker Lorent Tolaj, who recently scored a record eight goals for Switzerland in a Euro under-19s fixture.

Rusk knows him well and saw him score the final goal in that 4-1 success over Spurs at the Amex.

He said: “Lorent’s goalscoring this year is impossible not to notice.

“Lots of individuals in the 18s group have been doing well.

“He has got a bit of limelight because of the eight goals.

“Hopefully when he gets his opportunity in and around the under-23s group he can maintain the form he has shown in the 18s.”