Albion’s winning team was youngest of Amex era

Jake Forster-Caskey has been one of the young plays who has impressed (Photograph: Paul Hazlewood)
Jake Forster-Caskey has been one of the young plays who has impressed (Photograph: Paul Hazlewood)

The Albion's starting 11 against Wigan had an average age of 24 years and 303 days.

Footballing clichés suggest managers are best-advised to turn to their most-experienced players when struggling for form. But Brighton and Hove Albion registered their first league win since August with the youngest starting 11 of the Amex era.

Sami Hyypiä’s starting line-up on Tuesday had an average age of just 24 years and 303 days.

Club historian Tim Carder confirmed that is the lowest since the club moved to the Amex in 2011 - and the youngest for a league game since the Albion’s last game at Withdean against Huddersfield Town back in April 2011.

Just two of the starting team were older than 30 - with club captain Gordon Greer 33 and fans’ favourite Inigo Calderon 32.

Six of the team that began the game against Wigan Athletic were 23 or under: Lewis Dunk (22); Joao Teixeira (21); Jake Forster-Caskey (20); Gary Gardner (22); Kazenga Lua Lua (23); and Christian Walton (18).

And another relative youngster, Rohan Ince (21), was introduced as a late substitute and, were he not suffering from a long-term injury, 20-year-old Solly March would surely be involved in first-team action on a regular basis.

While Gardner and Teixeira are both currently on loan at the Amex, the Albion’s other young players are not only holding their place in the current squad, but also offering a good example to those currently in the club’s development squads.

Since the club’s new state-of-the-art training complex was categorised as one of the best in the country, the Albion’s younger squads have been competing with some of the biggest clubs in football.

The under-18s have been enjoying a particularly encouraging start to the season. In recent weeks, they have beaten their counterparts from Aston Villa and Southampton and raised eyebrows with a 5-1 away win at Spurs and beaten Chelsea 2-1 at home.

One player who has made the step-up from development squad to first team in recent weeks is Brighton’s England under-20 international goalie Christian Walton. The stopper made an encouraging first-team debut in the Capital One Cup defeat to Tottenham and followed it up with an impressive display in his league debut against Wigan.

The 18-year-old has received widespread praise for his man-of-the-match performance - not least from his manager. Hyypiä told the club’s official website: “He has done well; he is calm and that is what you need to be as a goalkeeper".

Fans will be hoping he is just the latest of many to progress from youth set up to first team.