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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Mark McCadden

Irish Brighton prospect was overlooked by rivals because he was too small

Brighton prospect Andy Moran was overlooked by other UK clubs because of his size.

That’s according to the Seagulls’ former Academy Manager and current FAI consultant John Morling, who was encouraged to take a punt on the teenager in 2020.

Moran made his Premier League debut last month against Everton, but wasn’t even considered a prospect by Brighton’s top-flight rivals at the time.

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“Andy came to us as a recommendation from his club at the time, St Joseph’s (Boys), from Will Clarke,” Morling told

“(Clarke) said, ‘We’ve got a very technically good player, but no-one will look at him because he’s tiny’.

“We got a couple of reports and then took him on-trial. He did very well and we decided to give him a go and take him, because technically he was excellent.”

Even when he arrived at Brighton, Morling felt he would have to play in the club’s younger age group.

However, Moran’s qualities - he was labelled ‘the Irish Phil Foden’ by then-Under-18 coach Mark Beard - forced a rethink.

“He came to us as a scholar in July 2020 and we initially thought he might have to play for the 16s at some point, because of his physical capabilities,” said Morling.

“That changed, because within two weeks of pre-season the 18s and 23s coaches came in to me and said, ‘There’s more chance of him playing in the 23s than the 16s here because he’s done that well.’

“He could handle the ball well and being a small player was fine, because technically he was so good.

“He just needed to get up to the speed of the game and from a physical point of view improve and be patient with his growth.”

Morling once again addressed the fact that Brighton had no competition when it came to snapping up the midfielder from Bray Wanderers.

“Recruitment was straightforward as no-one else was interested, probably because of his size,” he said.

“Talent management was really important though - where he played, how long for, who he played with, what his strength and conditioning programme was going to be like, what psychology support he needed.

“He was coming to a new country, to a new club, in Covid. That’s all very difficult, as well as being a physically small player.”

Moran’s first-team bow came in the League Cup against Cardiff City in August 2021, just over a year after his arrival.

His Premier League debut followed in the 4-1 win over Everton last month, in the same game that saw Evan Ferguson score his second goal for the club.

To land Ferguson from Bohemians, Morling acknowledged, Brighton had to fend off bids from plenty of other Premier League sides.

“Evan came to us at 16, having already played first-team football for Bohemians at 14,” he said.

“He was 6’2” and looked like a 21-year-old. He never really played in the 18s for us - just a handful of games and some training - and most of his time was in the 23s.

“That was what he needed. The challenge can’t be too easy or too hard but has to keep moving a player forwards.”


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