Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s concluded their final day of training ahead of Friday’s friendly against Rio Ave’s under-23s, and midfielder Jack Spong has enjoyed his first opportunity to spend pre-season with Simon Rusk’s side.
The 17-year-old featured in Premier League 2 victories over Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Derby County last season — his only appearances for the under-23s during a busy season for the under-18s.
Spong is currently away in Portugal with the Seagulls, and the midfielder showed his understanding towards the differences at under-23 level, as he aims to improve his game in all areas.
He said, “It’s been physically demanding with the under-23s, there’s a slight increase in speed compared to the under-18s — it’s the little things that make the difference.
“Getting the know the players last season and having a connection with some of the boys has made it easier coming away for the pre-season training.
“It’s a big step between the under-18s and under-23s — physically and mentally it’s about taking your game to the next level.
“It’s important to learn from your time with the under-23s and then when you go back to the under-18s, you try to take what you’ve learned across.”
Albion will travel back to England after their first pre-season friendly, and Spong is focused on doing everything possible to continue featuring for the under-23s.
“Everything is a lot more one touch with the under-23s, so it’s important to work on the technical aspects of the game, but of course this week is very much about improving our fitness as well.
“Every time I’m with the under-23s, I know the coaches are watching closely, so I’m always keen to impress.
“Max [Sanders] has gone away with the first team, so I can definitely look at what he’s doing, watch his clips and try to improve my own game by looking at his.”
Kieran Cleeves was behind the lens to capture all the action from day four in Portugal.