Matt Taylor believes he is well-placed to judge the progress of a bright young prospect like Carl Rushworth when he arrives on loan.

The former Portsmouth and West Ham midfielder is in charge at League Two side Walsall, where Rushworth is earning some great reviews.

His previous job saw him supervise young players at Tottenham, a role he maintained until the end of last season.

He knows how he would like to see a player such as the 20-year-old goalkeeper return to his parent club after a season away.

To that end, Albion should be happy with what they see when Rushworth rejoins them at the end of the current campaign.

Taylor is happy he can take good care of one of their most talked-about prospects.

The Saddlers boss told The Argus: “Carl has been nothing short of a man since he came into the building.

“It’s great from the perspective that he is 100% on board with what we are asking of him.

“He is going to get better - and he IS getting better.

“He is becoming more confident and he is competing for that No.1 jersey – and he has got it at the moment.

“For the last two years I worked with players of his age who went on loan.

“What you want to see is the players, when they come back to their parent club, have grown and they have learnt and they have been exposed to some situations that previously they hadn’t been.

“For me, he has to continue doing what he is doing.

“He is doing a really good job at the moment.

“He is being pushed constantly and daily.

“He is probably working harder on the pitch and in the gym than he has done because he is now, with all due respect, competing against men every single day.

“It’s difficult within an under-23 environment to replicate that.

“I only say that because I’ve been in it and seen it very recently.

“We are very pleased as a football club at the moment that Carl is doing his job.”

Taylor jokes that all he asks of Rushworth is that he keep the ball out of the net.

Then he adds: “Of course there is more to it than that.

“There’s a huge amount of detail that goes into his position.

“I want him to be confident when playing out.

“I want him to come for crosses.

“You want to him to stop the ball going in the net.”

Rushworth is certainly confident passing the ball out from the back.

He had a chance to work on that in his first loan spell when he joined Isthmian League leaders Worthing on their 4G pitch two years ago.

“We play out from the back and he is good with his feet,” said former Albion defender and youth coach Adam Hinshelwood, now Worthing’s manager.

“Some of the saves he pulled off for us were from way above our level. You could see that extra quality.”

Such was the clamour, Rushworth was mentioned as a Barcelona target when a clip of one his tip-overs at Woodside Road went viral.

He laughs about that now and is not sure where it all came from.

Graham Potter laughed too when asked about it at one of his press conferences at the time.

But Rushworth is building up another highlights reel already this season.

It features three fine stops at Newport last Saturday, one of them from a Matty Dolan penalty after Worthing boy Mickey Demetriou had put the hosts in front.

He also shone when Walsall, playing with ten for more than half the match, picked up a 1-1 draw in a frantic atmosphere at Bradford this month.


That sort of challenge was right up his street.

He told The Argus: “It has been really good. It’s the experience of playing in front of fans in men’s football.

“It means a lot more to the players whereas 23s is like building.

“At Walsall, people are fighting for the three points and it means a lot more. It’s massive.

“I’ve been loving having the trust from the manager and the players to play how I play.

“I think the main thing I had to get used to was the fans.

“Stepping up from 23s – especially with Covid when there were no fans at all – to Bradford, where there were 16,000, was a big step.

“I love playing in front of them – even when they are giving me stick. I thrive on it really.”

He admitted: “Worthing helped me massively.

“I was younger and I experienced it earlier.

“Obviously now the level is better here but it’s still the same game of football.

“Worthing was a good loan for my age and it helped me develop.”

Often a loan stint can be the chance for a young player to get used to moving away from home for the first time.

Not so for Rushworth, who was spotted by Albion playing for his hometown club Halifax.

He said: “Walsall is all right – I’ve had my fair share of looking after myself!

“It’s closer to home here. It’s halfway between Brighton and home so it’s ideal really.”

The locals in the Black Country have taken to Rushworth.

That much is obvious asking around at the Banks’s Stadium.

His goalkeeper coach is former Northern Ireland international Maik Taylor but Albion staff, particularly Casper Ankergren, keep in touch.

Rushworth, whose team host Bristol Rovers today, said: “We speak pretty much every week, especially with Casper.

“I speak to him every week on analysis. He will pick up some stuff from the game.

“When they can, they will come and watch my games as well and, if they can’t be there, they will watch my clips and watch the game (online) as well.

“It’s good they have access to do that so I can have their opinion along with Maik Taylor’s and the gaffer here.

“I listen to as many opinions as I can get and then it will help me develop overall.

“The ambition for me personally is to play as many games as I can and have a consistent run.

“I want to play consistently and then, as a team, we have got the quality to be promoted.

“I think that’s the main aim for everybody.

“The gaffer and, I think. the fans want that so that will be the main aim as a team.

“But, for me, it is to get the experience of playing 40, 50 games in a season.”