Evan Ferguson warmed up for Ireland’s upcoming internationals with another sparkling display for Brighton and the plaudits have been flowing in his direction.
Ferguson scored a brace as Brighton ended Grimsby’s fairy-tale FA Cup run at the quarter-final stage with a decisive 5-0 victory over League Two’s 15th-placed side to set up a last-four tie with Manchester United.
Deniz Undav scored inside six minutes and 18-year-old Ferguson had standout afternoon, hitting two before Solly March nodded in the fourth and Kaoru Mitoma sealed the Mariners’ fate at the Amex Stadium.
It was Ferguson’s display that was the big talking points after the match, with Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi lavishing praise on the Irish teenager.
“Ferguson is a special striker,” declared De Zebri.
“Me and my staff are working to improve him to not only be a number nine and a striker but improve him to be understanding the play – when to receive the ball or when to attack the space and not only one thing – to complete the player, to complete the guy.
“He’s a very good guy and I think that if you work with a clever guy it’s nice because he understands and he improves day by day.”
Former England captain Gary Lineker was also impressed with Ferguson, as he offered up this tweet:
Former Chelsea star Scott Minto joined the chorus of praise for Ferguson, as he offered these comments to talkSPORT.
“The scary thing is that he could go all the way, he really could,” said Minto.
"I watch him and he’s 18 now, he’s playing like a 29-year-old. He’s got the physique of a 29-year-old, he’s got the maturity of a 29-year-old and you’re talking about someone like Mitoma who can get better, well this kid can obviously get better and better.
“When he’s in front of goal, he’s got a very different physique, but he looks like Michael Owen. You need to be ice cold in front of goal and have that composure and he did that. He was only just offside for the goal that was disallowed but if it wasn’t for that he’d have a hat-trick here.
“Forget the fact that you’re playing against a League Two team, they would have been three quality goals, so how good could he be? He could definitely play for a Champions League side in a few years’ time.”
“Who is the best finisher out there at the moment? Erling Haaland. He plays between the sticks and I think that Manchester City don’t quite play to his way.
“Evan Ferguson is one of those who knows what he needs to do. He knows he needs to stay between the sticks and if he does then this Brighton side will give him chances."