Brighton & Hove Albion under-23 defender George Cox says that his loan spell at Northampton Town in the latter half of the season provided him with lessons both on and off the pitch.
The full-back joined the Cobblers on a loan deal in January until the end of the campaign, but saw game time restricted due to an injury – but he insisted it was a valuable experience nonetheless.
He said, “It was a lesson for me despite the time I missed out on through injury, but I did manage to get a few appearances under my belt and I think it’s made me a better person and player.
“I learnt a lot more within men’s football, it’s a big step up from under-23s to seniors, and I’ve learnt to also cope with different types of people as well. It’s a lot more physical and because of my size I’ve had to learn to be clever and find ways around that – it’s about how to use my body.
“Off the pitch as well, things like the matchday experience and the crowd give you a good taste for it – things like the interviews around the game are good too and it all just seems to step up a level.”
The left-footed defender also spoke about the dialogue between the League Two club and the Seagulls during his time away, and commented on the support those back at Albion gave him during his spell at The PTS Academy Stadium.
“The communication between myself and the people here was great, and someone would always come to watch the games,” he continued.
“Whoever that would be, they'd would speak to me after, and they’d check up on me about accommodation, how training was going and general other bits and pieces.
“Mentally it can be tough when you’re not playing – injuries and so on are just part of the game, they make you a stronger person as I found out for myself last summer."
Cox joined the likes of Ben Barclay, Aaron Connolly, Ben White, Steven Alzate and Robert Sanchez from the 2017/18 promotion-winning side in heading out into the EFL this term to gain senior experience within the game.
The defender spoke about the progression of that group of players and highlighted the development process and the benefits of the change in environment.
“A lot of the group have stepped up and gone out on loan – that’s the next natural step for those in the under-23 group.
“The season we had where we won promotion was great and very successful, we showcased ourselves really well.
“It’s the next stage that you need to take to enable yourself to be ready to push on and look to get into the first team group, because that’s the main aim.”
The academy product also looked ahead to next season as the current campaign ends, and he spoke about the decisions to be made in the summer which will determine his next best move.
“It’s about me kicking on now and hopefully staying fit, it will be about sitting down in the summer and seeing what the next best step is for me.
“That might mean going back out on loan to another club – making sure it’s somewhere that suits me, or maybe waiting until January and seeing what options I have.
“But going back out and getting more of a taste for senior football will definitely benefit me, it’s a crucial year for me, so it’s about making the right decision.”