Brighton & Hove Albion have announced the return to the club of midfielder Andrew Crofts, in a new player-coach role with the club’s under-23s.
Crofts has signed a two-year playing contract, solely to play in Simon Rusk’s under-23 side, as one of three permitted over-age outfield players, allowed under Premier League 2 rules.
Technical director Dan Ashworth said: “This is an innovative step, and we are delighted to have Andrew on board. Firstly as a coach, following Liam Rosenior’s move to Derby County, and he will become part of our under-23 coaching team, working with Simon and his assistant Shannon Ruth.
”Secondly, the thinking behind the playing role is to have someone of his experience out there on the pitch alongside our younger players, and to impart that crucial knowledge he has gained from his time in the game.
“To have that experience out on the field, in the pressure situation of a game, will be of enormous benefit to our young players and have a positive impact on their collective and individual development.”
Crofts had agreed a one-year contract as player-coach with Yeovil Town last month, and the Glovers have agreed to cancel his contract to allow him to take the new role with Albion.
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Chief executive and deputy chairman Paul Barber added: “Andrew has remained in contact with the club ever since he left us as a player, and made no secret of his desire to move into a career in coaching.
“He’s someone who knows the club inside out, understands what we are trying to achieve, and he feels like a natural fit in the role vacated when Liam left for Derby.
“We are delighted he’s chosen to take the role, and extremely grateful to Yeovil for their agreement to cancel his contract in order to do that. With that in mind, we wish them all the very best for the season ahead.”
Crofts returns to the club for a third spell, having twice served Albion as a player, and takes up the role of on- and off-field coach as part of Rusk’s coaching team.
The 35-year-old former Albion captain enjoyed a career across the four top tiers of English football, starting off with his local club Gillingham, and playing in the Premier League with Norwich City.
An all-action midfielder, Crofts, who won 29 senior international caps for Wales, enjoyed two spells with Albion either side of his time at Carrow Road, and made 125 appearances in the stripes, scoring 13 times.
Including his international appearances, he played more than 500 senior games, in a career that also saw him serve Peterborough United, Wrexham, Charlton Athletic, Scunthorpe United and most recently, Newport County.