Bjordal relishing EFL Trophy tie at Coventry

Henrik Bjordal believes the EFL Trophy has given Albion's young players an excellent platform to showcase their ability as the team prepare for their last 16 tie at Coventry City this evening.

Tuesday, 10th January 2017, 10:30 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:49 am
Henrik Bjordal in action for Albion's under-23 team. Picture by Paul Hazlewood (BHAFC)

The competition has received a lot of criticism this season, as under-21 teams of Premier League and Championship clubs were allowed to enter, but Norwegian 18-year-old Bjordal, who joined the Seagulls from Aalesunds last January, says it has been beneficial for the club's youngsters.

Bjordal will be joined in the squad tonight by full-back Liam Rosenior, making his return after suffering an ankle injury in August, and midfielder Rohan Ince.

The Seagulls reached the last 16 with a 2-1 win at AFC Wimbledon in December and Bjordal is looking forward to testing himself against another League One side tonight.

He said: "We are playing against a first team and you have to take the chance to show you can play well against a good team like Coventry from League One.

"It will be a tough game, as Wimbledon was, but I think we are ready and can go through.

"For us in the under-23's I think it's (the competition) very important. It is a good arena in which to show our quality and show that we can play at a high level.

"I understand for Coventry it's just like another game but for us young players it's very good. It's a good level, so we just have to show people what we can do against first team players."

Brighton first-team squad players Solly March, Kazenga LuaLua and Richie Towell have been among those to play in the competition this season and Bjordal said: "It's helped a lot. They bring their experience down to us and you're playing with good players.

"It's important that we are not eleven 18-year-old players and that you have some experience. It makes you feel safe and they are good to play with."

The final of the competition is at Wembley but Bjordal has given that little thought and said: "We can't think about that yet. To play at Wembley would be a big thing for us but we have to take one match at a time."

Bjordal was in Albion's 20-man squad for the 2-1 win at Birmingham last month and reflecting on his first year at the club, said: "I was hoping to be closer to the first team and maybe have more chances but I just have to keep fighting and working hard and hopefully a chance will come.

"I travelled to Birmingham in a squad of 20 players. It was good to be involved and to be in the dressing room before and after the game. The game ended well too, so it was good experience for me.

"It's more difficult to play a game when the team is top of the table but I like that challenge. It's good to be around a team who wins almost every week."

Tonight's game kicks off at 7.45pm at the Ricoh Arena. Coventry are now managed by former Seagulls boss Russell Slade, who is taking charge of his fourth Sky Blues match.

Coventry are second from bottom in League One but have drawn their last two matches, against Peterborough and high-flying Bolton Wanderers.

Ticket prices for the game are £10 adults, £5 concessions (over-60; 16-21) and £1 for under-16s.

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