THE SECRET SCOUT: Brighton defender Haydon Roberts is smart but must develop physically

Our scout is a top football expert who attends matches each week searching for the next star.

This week they give Sportsmail a low-down on Brighton’s 17-year-old defender Haydon Roberts.

Here is why the youngster is catching the attention in the Premier League side’s academy.

Haydon Roberts is Brighton’s latest prospect and shows a superb ability to read the game 

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  WHAT HAS HE GOT?

In a high-quality academy game, Roberts proved to be a cool head in defence alongside a more powerful, right-footed central partner.

Only 17, he doesn’t yet look the strongest, but showed enough to suggest he has a good chance of making progress. With his partner marking the tall, opposition forward, Roberts covered the surrounding areas. When his partner misheaded, Roberts was there to clear up.

Generally, he sat in the back four, covering and tackling when required and always trying to stay on his feet.

However, it was his reading of the game that impressed me most. He maximised his passing and assessed situations quickly. When it needed a longer clearance, he showed a good range, but never attempted the Hollywood ball. He looked a leader despite being one of the youngest on the field.

Roberts (right) celebrates scoring against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup earlier this season

WHAT DOES HE NEED?

He was not particularly tested in the air, so I would need to see that. Pace-wise, he was not caught out, but he doesn’t look excessively quick. 

He was not troubled, although the opposition did not have a quick striker playing up front, more of a No 10. 

This was a competent display by Roberts and I will monitor his progress. Brighton have Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy and Adam Webster, but Roberts could be challenging them before long.

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