Towell ready to rock on after his steep learning curve
Richie Towell can understand why the football public was surprised by the news that he has signed a new contract with Brighton. That's because the offer came as a shock to him, too.
The 25-year-old has spent the bulk of his 18 months in England on the periphery and his sole contribution to Brighton's promotion from the Championship was six minutes off the bench away to Rotherham in March.
"I wasn't expecting it (the new contract). When you don't play, you're not expecting a new deal," admitted the Dubliner.
"The club kept telling me they rate me. The manager kept telling me he rates me. I kept thinking, 'You don't', but they showed the faith in me."
Towell, who is a guest on this week's LOI Weekly Podcast, has already been told that he will spend next season out on loan - hopefully in the Championship - to gain more experience and his preference would be to kick off pre-season at his temporary base so he can hit the ground running.
The former Dundalk midfielder joined Brighton midway through the 2015-'16 campaign and then 12 months ago he was struck by a knee injury after kicking off pre-season at the top of all the Seagulls' fitness categories.
Towell, who joined Celtic as a teenager, accepts that over-training during his break might have contributed to his injury problems, with the amount of road-running he did applying strain that led to an unusual problem.
Another difficulty for Towell is that Chris Hughton prefers a 4-4-2 formation, which doesn't necessarily suit his strengths, but he's adapted his game to function as a second striker.
"I've got a lot of respect for the manager. He has fantastic knowledge of the game. It's great working for him and I hope I can do that for many years," said Towell, who is looking forward to playing in the Championship on a regular basis next season.
"I think I can play at that level. It's just about getting the chance," added Towell, who found it hard to be on the fringes last season.
"I love training. I love everything about the game, so when you're not going out on a Saturday it's kinda heartbreaking. But at the end of the day, being part of what we've achieved is something I will never forget.
"I've learned so much - more than in any other season; seeing the likes of Steve Sidwell and how he prepares for games.
"Everyone was ringing me and asking me, 'Why are you not playing?'. But people don't realise the quality of the players we have in our team. They'll play in the Premier League next season and they will realise it then."
You can hear the full interview with Towell, which also includes his views on the different management styles of Chris Hughton and Stephen Kenny and the demands of a normal day at Brighton, on independent.ie/podcasts