• U-23 Player Profile - Ben Barclay

    Ben Barclay started the first-team pre-season friendly against AFC Wimbledon on 21 July 2018

    Benjamin Philip Barclay entered the world on 7 October 1996 in Manchester, England. He attended Altrincham College of Arts and joined the Manchester City academy system at the age of 7. He developed through the age ranks with the Citizens alongside another player who would become a good friend: David Brooks. Brooks subsequently moved on to Sheffield United and is now a Premier League footballer with Bournemouth and a full Welsh international.

    Unfortunately Barclay was released by Manchester City mid-way through his U-16 schoolboy season without being offered a scholarship. However, Brighton and Hove Albion had seen something in the tall, slim, technically-gifted centre-back who was a good passer of the ball and he joined the Albion as a new scholar in July 2013 (his intake also included Will Collar and Des Hutchinson).


    Barclay made his debut for the Albion U-18 side when he came on as a substitute in the opening match of the 2013-14 season, a 2-0 defeat at Cardiff City on 17 August 2013. He made his full debut two weeks later when he partnered Jamie Horncastle in the centre of defence in the 2-2 draw at Brentford. He didn’t have long to wait for his debut at U-21 level and on 16 September 2013 he partnered Glen Rea in the 1-1 draw at home to Brentford. By the end of the 2013-14 campaign Barclay had made 13 appearances for the U-18s (including 10 starts) and 6 appearances for the U-21s (4 of them starts).

    In July 2014, now a second-year scholar, Barclay travelled with the development squad to a training camp at La Manga as part of the pre-season preparations. Once the season started he made 12 appearances for the U-18s (partnering first-year scholar Ben White in all but one of his appearances). He scored his first goal for Albion in the 4-0 home win over Southampton U-18s on 10 January 2015. At U-21 level Barclay made just 5 appearances, partnering Tom Dallison on each occasion. His season was ended by injury in early February 2015.

    Barclay challenges for the ball against Lewes in the Sussex Senior Cup on 12 November 2014


    At the end of Barclay’s scholarship he had scored one goal for the U-18s in twenty-five appearances over two seasons. He had shown enough to secure a two-year professional contract with the Seagulls which commenced in the summer of 2015. He was involved in the first-team pre-season friendlies against Lewes and Gillingham in July 2015. During the season he made 15 appearances for the U-21s when his central defensive partner was again usually Tom Dallison. For the second year running his season was curtailed in February through injury.

    In 2016-17 Barclay made a total of 23 appearances for the U-23s (17 of them as starts). Whilst the bulk of them were at centre-back (mostly partnering Ben Hall) he made one appearance at right-back and a handful of starts in midfield.

    Barclay looks to score against Southend United in the Checkatrade Trophy on 30 August 2016

    In May 2017 the club announced that Barclay was one of five U-23 players who had signed a one-year extension to their contracts. He participated in the pre-season friendly programme for the U-23s during July and August 2017 but was injured before the season proper commenced. It turned out to be a serious knee injury which would keep him out of action for six months. He finally returned to playing on 26 February 2018 when he started and played the first half of the U-23 Premier League Cup Group tie against Exeter City. In his next appearance he scored his first goal at U-23 level in the 3-0 win at Middlesbrough on 9 March 2018. He finished the campaign with that one goal in six starts as Albion won promotion to Premier League 2 Division One for the first time.


    Despite Barclay’s injury woes the club announced in May 2018 that his contract had been extended once again. In July 2018 he was included in the squad for the first-team pre-season training camp in Austria (along with fellow development squad players Ben White, Viktor Gyokeres and Hugo Keto). He also featured in the first-team pre-season friendlies against FC St Gallen, AFC Wimbledon and Portsmouth.

    Barclay started the 2018-19 campaign partnering Ben White at the heart of the defence for the Albion U-23s. A knee injury to White picked up in only the second match of the season, at Arsenal, combined with an injury to Lewis Dunk (and the failure to add a fourth recognized centre-back to the Premier League squad during the transfer window) opened the way for Barclay to be named as a starting centre-back, alongside Bernardo, for the Carabao Cup second round tie against Southampton on 28 August 2018. Barclay thereby made his full debut in senior football and came within a couple of minutes of helping to keep a clean sheet; unfortunately that pesky Charlie Austin had other ideas.

    Barclay makes a pass on his senior debut against Southampton in the Carabao Cup on 28 August 2018

    Barclay (whose October 1996 birthday means that he no longer qualifies as an U-21 player for Premier League squad purposes as of 2018-19) was included in Albion’s 25-man Premier League squad in August 2018. He will be hoping that this season he can avoid the injury issues that have affected him throughout his Albion career to date (in five full seasons, Barclay has averaged only 16 competitive appearances per season) and be available for possible Premier League involvement should the need arise through injury or suspension to others.

    **UPDATE: On 4 January 2019 Barclay, who had scored two goals for Albion's U-23s in 17 appearances in 2018-19, joined League Two Notts County on loan until the end of the season. It is Barclay's first loan outing of his career.**

    Now read:
    U-23 Player Profile - George Cox
    U-23 Player Profile - Ben White
    U-23 Player Profile - Owen Moore

    Article created: 30 August 2018
    Article last updated: 4 January 2019
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