Sunday, 24 July 2011

Brighton's next top footballer: Jake Forster-Caskey

He is Brighton and Hove Albion's latest teen sensation. He has been linked to a string of bigger clubs and his name is Jake. You could be mistaken for thinking we have been here before...

But, where as the club's last great white hope Jake Robinson drifted down the leagues, Jake Forster-Caskey seems destined for big things.

The son of former Reading star and one time 'New Gazza' Darren Caskey and step-son of Albion legend Nicholas Forster, the 17-year-old was thrust into the limelight before he had even made his first team debut.

Rumoured interest from Arsenal and Aston Villa saw the Seagulls table a two-year contract back in April 2010. Thankfully, the talismanic midfielder put pen to paper and, for the time being at least, he remains nestled in the bosom of the Albion.

After sitting on the bench away to MK Dons, Forster-Caskey was given his chance to shine as a 76th minute substitute in the season curtain closer against Yeovil. He may have only been on the pitch for 14 minutes, but the way he strutted around the pitch, demanding the ball off senior players and spraying an impressive array of passes to every corner of the Withdean pitch had Brighton fans drooling.

If he thought he had cracked the first team though he was, temporarily, wrong. Forster-Caskey had to wait until the second half of last season's FA Cup 5th round defeat at Stoke City to wear the stripes a second time.

Now, with the new season fast-approaching, and Forster-Caskey not long returned from an Under 17 World Cup, I thought it would be a good time to catch up with and check on his progress.

How best to communicate with a 17-year-old footballer though? Clearly, it had to be Twitter.

@RichardMorris81 (RM): What was it like making your first team debut and being BHA's youngest ever player?

JakeCaskey28 (JFC): It was a great moment for and my family. I was really happy firstly to make a bit of history and secondly make my family proud.

RM: Did you make the first team sooner than you imagined?

JFC: No, not really. I had been playing well and even though I was young I still always thought I could play first team football.

RM: How did you find it in the first team?

JFC: Obviously harder but I have really enjoyed every moment that I have been given with the first team - and I hope I get more opportunities!

RM: What is it like working with Gus Poyet? Was he playing when you started watching football or had he retired?

JFC: I remember him and he was a fantastic player. I have only positive things to say about Mr Poyet because he has been good to me.

RM: As a midfield player yourself, does Mr Poyet offer you special guidance and has he helped you bring your own game on?

JFC: No special guidance but he has made me a better player. And the way Brighton play now really suits my game.

RM: Stoke City away: You were given a chance against Premiership players. What was that like having so much faith placed on you?

JFC: I enjoyed the pressure and I feel like I played well and that is all I can do. If I get a opportunity I have to keep taking them.

RM: You were on of the Albion's brighter players that day. Did it give you a taste of the big time and do you believe you will play Premiership one day?

JFC: It is every young players dream to play in the Premiership and I hope to do that with Brighton but it is important to concentrate on the year ahead.

RM: And are you confident you can make an impact in the Championship this season? Have you set yourself any targets for this year?

JFC: The way I play I believe is better suited to the Championship than League One because it is more football and that is what I like.

RM: Was it disappointing not to be with the first team more regularly last season having already made your debut?

JFC: Yes, very frustrating but I hope this is the season where things really move foward.

RM: For people who have not seen you play before, what are the strongest and weakest parts of your game and which midfielder you aspire to be like?

JFC: I would say Charlie Adam. He is the one player who I really enjoy watching. I would say going forward and when I am on the ball is my strongest parts. Need to improve my defending.

RM: People are already calling you the new Gareth Barry and predicting big things. Is that hard to believe / handle?

JFC: I am Jake Forster-Caskey and I want to be myself. I hope to have the success like Barry but I don't like to live under someone else's name.

RM: Talking of living under other people's names, how important has Nicky Forster been in your career and had he given you any guidance about staying at Brighton for a bit longer?

JFC: He has been so supportive. He never told me to stay or leave Brighton but he has been key to my success.

RM: Your name has been mentioned in the tabloids as being linked to Arsenal and Villa. That must be pretty cool for someone your age?

JFC: Yeah it is good but I am a Brighton player and I have a two year deal and I want to do my best for the club.

RM: It must add pressure being so well-known among fans despite being relatively young?

JFC: Yes of course there is added pressure but I like the attention that I get down in Brighton and I just hope I can make an impact this year.

RM: You have been to the World Cup. That must have been great. Any favourite moments?

JFC: The World Cup was a fantastic experience. The moment that stands out is beating Argentina on penalties.

RM: So for those of us who never will, what is it like pulling on an England shirt?

JFC: Every time I put on an England shirt it makes me so proud and I play like it could be the last time. Hopefully I can put it on a few more times yet.

RM: For the full England team?

JFC: Yes, you have to believe that one day you can play for the England senior team otherwise it won't happen.

RM: Brighton has a good youth set up. Other than you which other young players should we look out for and why?

JFC: I don't want to name names, but there are some good young players coming through so the fans should be extremely excited.

RM: Lastly, where do you see yourself in five years?

JFC: Hopefully in the Premier League with Brighton and hopefully still getting caps for England.

Follow Jake on Twitter at @JakeCaskey28

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