John Robinson is delighted to see his prediction about a present-day Albion wideman come true.

The winger from the Goldstone era said Solly March would flourish playing in empty stadia.

Robinson was brought up in Newhaven and knows how tough it can be as a local boy trying to impress.

He overcame his own such nerves to be fans’ player-of-the-year before moving on to Charlton and winning 30 international caps for Wales.

These days he plays an active part in helping Sussex talent progress thanks to his own academy, which has strong links with colleges in the USA.

John Robinson Soccer UK has just secured a major boost, allowing them to offer football and education through the tricky 16-to-18 age bracket.

He knows how tough it can be for local talent but believes March, from Hailsham, is now ready to show fans what he can do in person, rather than on TV, as the gates re-open.

Robinson told The Argus: “When they went behind closed doors, I said it would be interesting to see Solly get a run in the side.

“You can see his confidence is now through the roof. He is an exceptionally good player and you can see that this year.

“That wing-back position gives him the ability to show what he can do and he proved it on that goal against Villa.

“You can see this year he is one of the top performers - and consistent as well.”

Robinson recalls being affected by groans from the crowd as a youngster.

But time, experience and support from colleagues got him through.

He said: “You know the fans have the right because they pay, they support and they go home and away.

“All you have to keep doing is work hard.

“You know you will make mistakes but the effort has to always be there.

“As I continued being in the team and experiencing these different situations, I was able to deal with it.

“You realise not to hide because that’s an easy option.

“What changes it for you is that experience of having bad games or a bad 20 minutes and then coming out of it.

“That helped me when I went to Charlton because you’ve now got a new crowd to try and win over.”

It is not known whether March found it harder to express himself with fans – albeit well-meaning – looking over his shoulder. He may well deny it.

Robinson said: “I think players would always say the fans don’t bother them.

“But it’s different growing up with it as a local lad.

“I’m not saying he didn’t play well beforehand but he would be in and out of the team at times.

“There is still pressure now because you want to play well for the team and the manager and game is on TV.

“But, when you’ve got maybe 20,000 of your own fans all going (he makes the sound of a disappointed groan), that ‘uuuhhhhhh’ noise is quite loud and we’ve all been through it.

“I just think this year you can see him flourish and being consistent. He has the support of the manager but he is also thinking, ‘If I do make a mistake, there is no one here’.”

All of which begs the question of what happens when fans come back.

If Robinson has got it right – and he is not the only one who has this theory about March – will he go back into his shell as the stands slowly fill up again?

Robinson said: “I think that has gone now.

“Solly is so confident now and people have been able to see it on TV.

“With the support of the manager and that goal - right foot, top bins - I don’t think there will be any issues now going forward.

The Argus:

John Robinson

“You can see the confidence in him, which is great.”

As a former wideman, Robinson is clear on what he likes about March.

He said: “It’s something you don’t always see in this modern age but he is always looking forward. He is always looking to be on that front foot.

“In this day and age, there is a lot of side-to-side passing.

“You look at the two players who stand out and what does Lamptey do as well?

“He is always going forward. He makes things happen, he is popping up for shots on goal.

READ MORE: Goalposts move for Albion as they eye signings from Europe

“Sometimes you pass for the sake of passing so everything is in front of you.”

Robinson’s own academy is on the front foot too after partnering with education provider SCL to offer 16-to-18-year-olds the NCFE level 3 extended diploma in sport and physical activity.

That kicks in from next September and is being seen as a unique opportunity for current year 11 students.

SCL are the only government-approved education provider, with 20 years’ experience in sports education, working with more than 70 football, cricket and rugby clubs nationwide.

John Robinson Soccer UK are their only partner in East Sussex.

Football and education will run from Newhaven Football Club, where Robinson started playing at the age of eight.

Newhaven have provided a permanent classroom and Robinson will coach the players himself.

They will also compete in weekly matches in the SCL Youth Football League.

An education is key because some will make it in football, some won’t.

Robinson knows that. He was an apprentice at Albion with Steve March, Solly’s dad.

He said: “Steve had a great left foot as well and you just need a bit of luck when the opportunity comes.

“He was very similar to Solly and I’m so pleased for both of them.

“There is a lot of talent in this area.

“When you see youngsters come through, it gives you some pride and it gives goals for others to aspire to.”