Haydon Roberts reckons he’s returned to the south coast a different player to the one that spent last season on loan with Rochdale.
His year at Spotland in League One ended in relegation but the 19-year-old got plenty from the experience.
“It was a challenging but I enjoyed every game I took part in and living away from home,” he said. “I learned about myself as a player and a person, I enjoyed every minute although in terms of results it wasn’t the best.
“It was good to learn from some of the experienced players who have played football for longer than I have lived! They’ve been professional for 18-20 years, so the little things you pick up are only going to add to my game.
“I learned a lot about defending, communication and leadership. I feel more like a man having had that year away.”
Roberts is looking to continue his education with Under-23s head coach Andrew Crofts.
“There was a couple of times where I was playing against 6ft 6in strikers and went into challenges where I could have been smarter. But as the season went on I learned to stand my ground and understand that you can’t win every header.
“I am a different player to what I was. I am stronger, quicker. I want to play in the Premier League and the year has given me a better idea of what I need to do to improve my chances of doing that.
“My strengths are as a ball-playing defender. League One was a bit more direct, you need to be physically and mentally strong.
“I enjoyed working and playing with Crofty before. He’s a good guy, good coach and I have enjoyed this last couple of weeks working with him.”
Albion under-23s continue their pre-season preparations with a behind-closed-doors friendly on Friday against Eastbourne Borough.