Richie itching for brighton chance
Fit-again Towell hoping to get a chance to shine for promotion-chasing Seagulls
A week short of the first anniversary of the day he formally joined the set-up at Brighton, on paper it looks as if time has stood still for Richie Towell.
Yet to start a league game and without a proper first-team game under his belt this season, it hasn't all gone swimmingly in the English coastal resort for the 25-year-old.
But Towell, recently fit again after an injury disrupted his season, says he's as determined and as motivated as ever to make his mark on the English game and play a role for a Brighton side who have ambitions, very serious ambitions, of being in the Premier League.
"There is no point in getting down about things, especially things you can't do anything about, like injury. The worst part for me was that I couldn't do anything to change it, now I am back fit I have things in my own hands now and can make something happen. I am putting in as much as I can and hopefully that will be enough," says Towell.
"You can never get too high or too low in football, you need to keep your head at all times and I have tried to do that.
"I am a better player now than I was 12 months ago, even what I have learned from other players. Our squad has so many good players, full internationals, you can only learn off them, players like Steve Sidwell who has played in the Premier league, to pick up tips from them and see what they do in training every day will only improve me."
Because Towell and his club have big aims. "The chairman and the gaffer are very ambitious people, the facilities here are incredible, the club do the best for us every single day and everything is in geared towards going up, and the lads on the pitch are putting in the performances that will hopefully lead to that," Towell told The Herald.
"Hopefully we can keep playing the way we are, not get complacent and it would be great to have that on your CV, to be part of a promotion-winning team. I really want to be part of that."
Last week's 2-1 win away to Birmingham was a big deal for Brighton, the three points keeping them in the top two in the Championship heading into the Christmas break.
It was also a big deal for Towell as he made the bench, albeit as an unused sub, his first time to make the bench for a league game this season after injury interrupted his progress. "Getting back on the bench last week was a boost for me after being out for so long, I am feeling positive and trying to do my best in training every day, I hope that the gaffer sees that I can bring something to the team when needed," says Towell.
Brighton have been playing well and winning without him so he's unsure if manager Chris Hughton wants to call on the Dubliner for the second half of the season or if it would better serve Towell to have a spell out on loan.
"My preference would be to play. I need to speak to the manager in the next week or two and see what his plans for me are. If he says I am in his plans and that I will play, then great, that has to be the main goal, to play for Brighton. If the manager says it's more beneficial for me to go out on loan and play some games I will do that, it will be the manager's call and I have to do my best no matter what," Towell says.
"If he says I am not in his plans I will have to push things a bit more but if he tells me I am in his plans and that he sees me playing for the side, that's good for me as that is all I have wanted since I came over here, to play. If he says I have to go on loan, I will do that, go away and show him what I can do. It's a hard team to break into, we have a top side here, we are where we are in the league for a reason, the team are flying. We have such a good squad here, some top players can't even get on the bench. Ourselves and Newcastle are ahead of the rest in the league as we are two good sides."
There have been some sightings of Towell, though, as he made two appearances for their U23 side in the Checkatrade Trophy competition, scoring in a win over Wimbledon earlier this month.
"Yeah, I played in a couple of U23 games, scored a few goals, and I feel really sharp, I am trying to work my way back into the manager's plans. I was on the bench last week, which was good for me and we got a great win, a win we needed. I want to play in every game but to play in the U23s was good, we beat Wimbledon a few weeks back and it was good to score in a win and get 90 minutes under my belt. I think the final of this cup is being played at Wembley so that's something to aim for," he says.
Clearly, the former Dundalk man would have preferred to have more than one sub appearance in the league to show for his year at Brighton but Towell and his family are settled there.
"The family like it here, my partner is good friends with the other players' wives and there's a real baby boom with all the players' children. My little girl loves going to the games because she gets to play with all her friends," he jokes.
Eight points clear of their next challengers in the league table, Brighton have some important games on the way but the January 14th fixture is also on his mind, the day his side play Preston, offering the chance of a reunion with former Dundalk team-mates Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan.
"It would be nice if we were all on the pitch at the same time," he says.
"I am sure the lads will do really well over here. I felt for them all when I watched the Cup final this year, I have great memories from the FAI Cup final so when I saw the lads lose the way they did I was gutted. But overall it was a great season for them."