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Andrews: EFL loans a mark of clear progress

Former Albion midfielder Keith Andrews has earmarked the success of the club’s players currently out on loan in the EFL as being a clear sign of the club’s progression.

By Alex Stedman • 10 September 2019

By REX/Shutterstock
Keith Andrews presenting on Sky Sports.

No fewer than nine Seagulls faces are currently plying their trade in England’s second and third tiers, including the likes of Jayson Molumby, Matt Clarke and Ben White - the Sky Sports pundit and Republic of Ireland Under-21 assistant praised the club’s recent work within the loan market and spoke positively of the benefits that it provides. 

He said, “When you look back at how things were a few years ago and compare it to now and the number of talented players the club has on loan in those divisions, then the progress the club has made in that area is very clear.

“The club has come a long way and now they’re becoming an established Premier League club that are trying to operate in a sustainable fashion.

“A big part of that is about nurturing the younger talent that you have so that they’re ready for first-team football - the loan market is an invaluable asset that we have in our footballing structure here in England.”

Someone who’s earned plaudits aplenty so far this term is Ben White – when we spoke to the defender last week, he identified the work of Marco Bielsa as being key to Leeds United’s strong start to the season.

Andrews highlighted the fact that White’s arrival has coincided with last year’s captain Pontus Jansson departing Elland Road, and the Irishman believes the young defender has more than stepped up to the plate.

“I’ve seen a lot of him with my work on the EFL. When you look at Leeds and think that they let somewhat of a cult figure go in Pontus Jansson and replaced him with Ben, then it makes his start to the new season even more impressive,” he continued. 

“He’d done well out in League One and League Two, at Newport he looked like a player of promise and people I spoke to confirmed that.

“You never know how someone will settle into that environment at somewhere like Leeds United with the intensity and the size of the club – they want to achieve promotion and Ben has improved them in that area.

“He’s great defensively, but his overall presence and calmness in possession really shows me that he’s been fantastic over the first few weeks of the season.” 

White has spent time at Newport County and more recently Peterborough United before making the switch to the Whites this summer, and Andrews spoke about the merits of learning the game through all tiers of the English system in such a way.

“I like it when clubs have a long-term strategy for a player to do that – the vast majority of players who come into a Premier League setup might not make their debut until they’re into their twenties, so to have a plan in place is good for everyone. 

“Of course, you might have an exception to the rule, but when you look at a player’s long-term plan you can take the approach of nurturing him through the divisions.

“The confidence levels of those players are vital too, they have to cope with the demands of the EFL and everything that senior football can bring.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Matt Clarke.

Someone in a similar position both on and off the field to White is summer arrival Matt Clarke, who's currently out on loan at Derby County, and the central defender is someone Andrews equally admires.

“When you look at his development at this stage in his career, he’s had to work his way up through the leagues too. 

“He was the exceptional player in League One, he was a great leader and is a player who relishes the defensive side of the game whilst also being comfortable on the ball.

“With the central defending options that Brighton have in place at the moment, the move made absolute sense. His first game against Huddersfield was outstanding, given the fact that he’d only been with the group at Derby County for a couple of days.

“It’s never easy to settle but he already looks the part and it’s another good stage in his development.”

By Millwall FC
Jayson Molumby.

A face closer to home for Andrews who is also out on loan in the Football League is Jayson Molumby – currently spending the season on loan at Millwall in the Championship.

The 20-year-old is captain of the national side at under-21 level, and despite having endured a tough few years with injury, Andrews says that the all-action midfielder is key to Stephen Kenny’s side which he helps to oversee.

“Jayson is someone I know very well, being the assistant manager with the Ireland under-21s, as well as Aaron Connolly.  

“He is a player I admire a lot. I think had it not been for his injury that kept him out for a long period of time, we’d have heard a lot more about him.

“Even in this pre-season he had a long summer with the Toulon Tournament, he was outstanding in that and won an individual award – he’s the heartbeat of our team and the driving force.

“He hasn’t played too much at Millwall yet and I think that is partly down to the injury he sustained with Brighton this summer, but the fact that he’s still in and around the first team picture each day speaks volumes.

“He got some good reviews against Oxford in the cup the other week and there was a lot of good feedback, so he’s someone I like a lot and someone I have high hopes for.”

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