HOPE POWELL says Albion came close to holding on to Chloe Peplow as they prepare for a reunion with their former midfielder.

The 21-year-old is now with Tottenham, who Seagulls travel to on Sunday in the WSL.

Peplow was a key figure in her two seasons for Albion, making 27 appearances and scoring one goal.

Albion boss Powell revealed why Peplow ultimately had a late change of heart to make the switch.

Powell said: “We offered to sign her, but obviously she is a player that likes to know she is going to play.

“I think that all comes with a bit of maturity to be honest and she is still a youngster.

“That is something I will never guarantee that a player is absolutely going to start. I will never do that.

“She was close to signing and at the last minute changed her mind, but seems to have settled in very well at Spurs and is getting regular game-time. For her it probably was the right decision.”

Powell expects Peplow to line up against Albion despite the midfielder being an unused substitute in Tottenham’s 1-1 draw away at Birmingham on Wednesday.

She said: “She (Chloe) is doing well, she seems to be a regular starter. She didn’t start on Wednesday but I imagine that is because they are resting her for our game, which is a bit of a compliment.

“We know her well. She was here for a season, she contributed magnificently well, so the players know her and are still in touch.

“It will be interesting to see how she does against us.”

Tottenham are in their debut season in the WSL after coming up from the Championship as runners-up behind Manchester United.

In their eight games so far they have picked up ten points and sit seventh.

Powell has been impressed with Spurs’ start at the top level.

She said: “They are above us. I think they have made some really good signings, they have got Chloe from us and Rachel Furness from Reading.

“They have settled into the league well and now it is everybody else saying ‘okay this side is pretty good, we have to be on our game’.

“They have done well, started well and, with them and Manchester United coming up, it just makes it a more competitive league.

“If you would have said this time last season Liverpool would have been bottom everybody would be going ‘no way’, so it just shows that the league is still split.

“You have the top four and then there is a definite divide, even though I know West Ham beat Manchester United.

“I think everybody else is relatively close, so at any moment the bottom half changes.”

Albion’s centre-forwards have struggled to score in the WSL.

However, with Kayleigh Green having scored a brace against Birmingham at the Amex in November and Ini Umotong opening her account in the WSL in the 2-2 draw against Reading last week, does Powell think things will change?

She said: “I think centre-forwards is a difficult role, everybody judges you on that (goals).

“Certainly with Kayleigh you have to look at the work she does off the ball, the work she does in terms of recovery, her all round game.

“No doubt if I asked Kayleigh to go in goal she’d probably do a really good job, so while there is always a confidence, it is all about scoring goals.

“We can’t take away from the fact in Kayleigh’s case she does a lot more.

“Ini getting on the scoresheet has given her a real boost of confidence but they just need to find the back of the net a bit more regularly.”

Umotong has found game time for Albion hard to come by this season due to injury and competition from Green.

It has seen the 25-year-old fall out of favour internationally for Nigeria, but is she hoping her performances for Albion can help her work her way back into the squad.

She said: “My focus is club at the moment, but the better I can do with the club the more chance it is that I will be recognised internationally.

“It all comes from focusing on my performances with Brighton.”

Umotong admits goals are all the more enjoyable in the WSL for one simple reason.

She said: “They feel special because they are so rare – they feel like gold dust.

“When you do score, I can’t describe it. It is incredible, especially when we can get a result from it.

“It is always a lot better to score goals when we get a draw or a win rather than when we have lost because it is so much more meaningful.”