• Albion's up-and-coming goalkeepers

    David Stockdale has been a keen subject of discussion amongst the NSC user base virtually since his arrival this summer, and the veteran Casper Ankergren is now in his fifth season with the Seagulls. Here we take a look at the younger custodians who are progressing through the club's academy system.

    Christian Walton (Professional) b. Wadebridge Nov 9 1995

    Walton is the son of former Cornwall county cricketer Tim Walton. He is a product of Plymouth Argyleís Bodmin advanced development centre, first signing Centre of Excellence forms with the Pilgrims in September 2006 at the age of 10. He played for East Cornwall Schools U-15s, and during his U-16 season of 2011-12 he started off as an ever-present for Argyleís U-18 side - until that run was broken when he was rewarded with a place on Plymouthís first-team bench as substitute goalkeeper, 3 days after his 16th birthday, for the FA Cup first round tie against Stourbridge.

    Walton commenced his two-year scholarship with Plymouth in July 2012. By October, there were media reports that Premier League scouts were flocking to check on his progress with Fulham rumoured to be lining up a ₤300,000 bid. However, in January 2013 he came to the Albion on trial; he was due to play for the U-18s but the game was called off. That didnít prevent the Albion making a move and the club announced on February 13 2013 that Walton had transferred from Plymouth, would complete his first scholarship year, and then sign a three-year professional contract in the summer. The fee Albion paid was undisclosed, but rumours suggested it was an upfront fee of ₤200,000 with various add-ons.

    Walton started Albionís final seven U-18 games in 2012-13, and made the bench for the development squad a handful of times. The following season he stepped up to become the main development squad goalkeeper, starting 13 of the 22 matches and making just four appearance for the U-18s. On December 7 2013 Tomasz Kuszczak was injured in the warm-up for Albion's League match at the Amex against Leicester City; Peter Brezovan was promoted to the starting line-up and Walton was named as a substitute, a role he kept a week later at Middlesbrough.

    In January 2014 Walton was one of 10 goalkeepers selected to attend a two-day England regional training camp at Guildford. In February he was called into the England U-19 squad and made his international debut as a substitute against Turkey on March 5 at Chesterís Swansway Stadium. Three U-19 starts followed in May. In June a media report suggested that Arsenal and Manchester City were keen on the 6ft 5in Walton, with other clubs also admirers. Albion fansí fears were somewhat allayed when Walton agreed a new four-year deal with the club in July.

    Waltonís progress has continued this season. He made his England U-20 debut in September and played in two of the three matches in the mini-tournament staged in the Netherlands in October. After being named the substitute goalkeeper for Albionís first team on six occasions, Walton finally made his full debut when he was selected to play against Tottenham in the Capital One Cup fourth round tie at White Hart Lane after David Stockdale suffered a finger injury in training. Walton repaid manager Sami Hyypia's faith with an assured performance.

    Josh Smith (Professional) b. Sidcup Mar 22 1996

    Smith was born in Sidcup and went to school in Erith. He joined Leicester Cityís academy and commenced his two-year scholarship in July 2012. On February 25 2014 he played for Albionís U-18 side, on trial, against Brentford, and again four days later against Sheffield United. Two days after that he was named on the bench for the development squad's match against Bristol City.

    It was announced on March 5 2014 that Smith had left Leicester (where his scholarship was terminated by mutual consent) and signed a two-year professional contract with Albion. So far this season Smith has made just a couple of appearances for the development squad.

    Harry Doherty (Professional) b. Donegal Mar 29 1996

    Doherty, from County Donegal, played schoolboy football with Cockhill Celtic in Inishowen. He rejected interest from Celtic and Burnley to sign for Charlton Athleticís academy and began his two-year scholarship in the summer of 2012. Tall and agile, Doherty has the large frame needed by modern goalkeepers, and earned Republic of Ireland U-16, U-17 and U-18 international honours.

    He was released by the Addicks at the conclusion of his scholarship. A story appeared on an Irish sports news site on May 17 2014 that Doherty had completed a successful weekís trial with Albion and had been offered a one-year contract, which he was considering (Albionís Academy Manager John Morling was aware of Doherty through his previous service as Irelandís U-17 manager). On May 23 Doherty tweeted that he was delighted to have signed for the Albion.

    This season Doherty started six of the first seven matches for Albionís U-18s. On September 4 he received a late call-up to the Republic of Ireland U-19 squad and appeared as a substitute against Holland four days later. He was also a late addition to the squad for the two recent friendlies in Sweden, playing in the first match.

    Bailey Vose (First year scholar) b. Sidcup 2nd Qtr 1998

    Vose attended Hurstmere School in Sidcup and was a member of the school squad that retained the North Kent Cup in 2012-13, and the following season had a perfect record of 17 victories in 17 matches as they completed the treble. He also played for Thamesmead Town Ė as a central defender or midfielder. He scored 6 goals in 28 appearances in 2012-13 and 2 goals in 12 appearances last season.

    He made the switch to Albionís academy and in December last year he tweeted that he had been offered a scholarship at Albion, commencing this summer. He was an unused substitute for three U-18 matches in March and April, but has had no active involvement so far this season.

    George Hobbs (U-16s) b. Brighton 4th Qtr 1998

    Local boy Hobbs, an attendee of Shoreham Academy, has been in the Albionís youth set-up for a number of years. He was a part of the Albion U-15 side who were national champions last season as they beat Derby, Crewe and Brentford in May at Warwick University to win the Premier League Academy Category Two Final.

    Hobbs was named as a substitute goalkeeper for the U-18s three times this season before making his debut in the amazing 5-1 win at Tottenham 10 days ago. He followed that up on Saturday with an excellent display to help the U-18s earn another big scalp, beating Chelsea 2-1.

    Thomas McGill (U-15s) b. Haywards Heath 2nd Qtr 2000

    McGill was a member of the Sussex U-14 side that lost to Essex in the English Schools FA Inter-County Trophy Final at the Madejski Stadium in May. In June he was one of the invitees to a Canadian Boys U-15 national talent ID camp in Toronto.

    At the age of just 14, McGill was named as the substitute goalkeeper for Albion U-18s' 5-1 win at Tottenham 10 days ago.

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    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Sergei's Celebration's Avatar
      Sergei's Celebration -
      My future money is on Samuel Smith in the U-14s.

      He played between the sticks in the U-14s tournament in Portugal this summer.
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