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Withdean's Greatest XI Vote - Central Midfield

With the end in sight for Brighton and Hove Albion's time at Withdean Stadium, we've decided to put together a poll for the Greatest XI to pull on the stripes during our 12 year stay - with this weeks vote being for the two central midfield slots.

The Albion have had some cracking central midfielders down the Withdean years. From experienced heads coming to the end of their careers like Paul Rogers and Radostin Kishishev to young players taking their first steps in the game such as Steve Sidwell, we've been blessed with goalscorers, flair and excitement.

Two captains - Dean Hammond and Andrew Crofts - have claimed the player-of-the-season crown, and as such we've found it hard to narrow this one down to twelve candidates, with good players who only played bit parts such as Steve Melton and George O'Callaghan finding themselves not even on the shortlist. Good luck picking this one!

Please remember you can vote for the TWO central midfielders you thought were the best to play for the club at Withdean.

Paul Rogers 1999-2003, 118 appearances, 15 goals
The first captain to lead out the side at Withdean, Rogers was a fixture in the team for his first two seasons at the club as part of one of the most impressive midfields seen alongside Charlie Oatway and Richard Carpenter. He lifted the Division Three and Two titles, scoring some vital goals on the way to both of them. By the time the Albion reached Division One in 2002 though he was a fading force, yet remained a bit part player in the unsuccessful battle against relegation before retiring at the end of that season. Never blessed with pace, "Dodge" used great positional sense to good effect and went about his business in a quiet, understated manner.
Charlie Oatway 1999-2005, 224 appearances, 8 goals
Another central midfielder to captain the side, Oatway was never the most talented of players but he made up for that with his dedication and combatativeness in the middle of the park. He was a huge part of the side that won back-to-back titles and was a mainstay of the team that won promotion via the play-offs in 2004 as well as captaining the club to survival the following year after Danny Cullip's departure. An injury sustained on Boxing Day in 2005 eventually lead to his retirement but he never truly departed the club and is now back having a successful time as Gus Poyet's first team coach.
Warren Aspinall 1999-2000, 32 appearances, 3 goals
Aspinall arrived a couple of weeks into the 1999-2000 season as part of a swap deal that saw Andy Arnott go to Colchester. Despite being in the twilight of his career and as such not as mobile as he was in the days when he was a member of top flight squads at Everton and Aston Villa, his vision with the ball made a huge difference in the centre of the midfield three being deployed at the time. Unfortunately, he only lasted just over a year with the club as an ankle injury saw him having to retire midway through the 2000-2001 campaign and drink and gambling addictions led him to the brink of suicide. Warren is now working as a scout for various football league clubs.
Richard Carpenter 2000-2007, 252 appearances, 20 goals
Carpenter arrived on a free transfer from Cardiff in 2000 and proved to be one of the bargains of the Withdean era and possibly Albion's history. A classy midfielder, "Chippy" had it all - he could tackle, he could pass, and he could score - usually from his trademark drilled free kick into the top corner. He was a regular starter in the line up from the moment he arrived, playing through three promotions and two relegations and eventually captaining the club towards the end of his spell. As a number of niggling injuries began to catch up with him, Carpenter agreed to allow some of the younger members of the squad a chance by terminating his contract in February 2007.
Junior Lewis 2002, 15 appearances, 3 goals
Signed by Peter Taylor at every club he managed, Lewis arrived at the Albion a few months into his reign as the Albion bid for the promotion from Division Two. Despite playing for the majority of his time at Withdean with injury, Lewis was a decent performer in the middle of the park with his performance in the vital home game against Reading being the cherry on top of the cake. He popped up with three important goals during his loan spell, but obviously any chance the Seagulls had of making the move permanent disappeared after Taylor handed in his resignation, moving to Hull a few months later and unsurprisingly taking Lewis with him
Simon Rodger 2002-2003, 36 appearances, 2 goals
Despite being a Sussex lad, Rodger spent the majority of his career with rivals Crystal Palace before becoming one of Steve Coppell's first signings as Albion boss in October 2002. His impact was immediate, scoring a fine goal from distance on his debut at home to Bradford City and he became a mainstay of the side that came so close to pulling off an unlikely escape from relegation from Division One. Rodger's form was rewarded with a new contract for the following season, but unfortunately just a few games in he suffered a career-ending injury at a time when the Albion were flying at the top of Division Two and he subsequently retired at the end of that season.
Dean Hammond 2002-2008, 136 appearances, 21 goals
Despite scoring on his Albion debut at Ipswich in 2002, Hammond had to wait a further two years before getting a regular run of first team games. After being given a six month contract by Mark McGhee, he finally broke into the first team in 2004 and he finally cementing his place as the Seagulls battled to survival at the end of that season. From then on he was a regular in the side, often popping up with vital goals at vital times which lead to him claiming the captaincy in February 2007 and the player-of-the-season crown at the end of that year. With just six months left on his contract, Hammond was sold by Dick Knight to Colchester in Janaury 2008.
Steve Sidwell 2002-2003, 12 appearances, 5 goals
Despite being just 19 when Steve Coppell signed him on-loan from Arsenal, Sidwell instantly became a key player. He scored some vital goals during his three month loan spell and few will ever forget his two strikes in the 92nd and 93rd minute of the home game with Burnley to rescue a point as the Seagulls came back from being 2-0 down in added time. In just 12 games he showed that he was destined for the top flight as his range of passing, his engine and most importantly his strike rate helped the Albion to their best run of form in the 2002-03 season. Unfortunately, the club couldn't compete with the money of Reading when it came to a permanent transfer.
Steve Thomson 2008-2009, 37 appearances, 0 goals
Thomson arrived as Dean Hammond's replacement from Falkirk in Janaury 2007 where he had been club captain. The signing was seen as quite a coup at the time although Thomson always struggled to fill the former skippers boots particularly in the goals department despite being made vice captain to Nicky Forster. He showed glimpses of class, such as in the away win at Walsall shortly after joining and the Carling Cup shoot out victory over Manchester City but he never really settled in England and with the Albion facing a relegation battle under Micky Adams, he returned to Scotland for family reasons with a transfer to St Mirren.
Gary Dicker 2009-, 81 appearances, 5 goals
With the Albion facing an uphill struggle in their battle against relegation, Russell Slade turned to Gary Dicker in a bid to boost his midfield options. The move was inspired, as the Irishman joined on-loan from Stockport and instantly got the team playing football and as such played a massive part in the great escape from relegation. The deal became a permanent one in the summer of 2009 and since then Dicker has been a regular in the side, weighing in with some important goals including that wonder strike last season at home to Exeter City. Out of contract this summer, it is not surprising that a number of Championship clubs are said to be interested.
Andrew Crofts 2009-2010, 44 appearances, 5 goals
Another fine midfield signing from Russell Slade, Crofts arrived on a free transfer from Gillingham and left for around 300,000 just a year later. He was finally the goalscoring midfield leader the Albion had been sorely lacking since Hammond's departure 18 months early, and it was fully deserved when Gus Poyet handed him the captaincy as one of his first decision as boss. With the armband, Crofts grew into a key man in the side and was rewarded with the player-of-the-season gong last year. His progress has been such that he is now targeting a Premiership spot with Norwich and has become a regular in the Wales side.
Radostin Kishishev 2010-, 31 appearances, 0 goals
The final spot was a tough call between Kishishev and Liam Bridcutt, both of whom have been excellent this year but Kish just gets the nod. He arrived in the summer on a free transfer and following the serious injury Alan Navarro sustained at the start of the campaign, became a revelation in the holding midfield role. While the legs may be going and restrict just how much football he is able to play, his class and experience shine through, most notably when the Seagulls are struggling to break teams down and he will begin spraying the ball about with all the talent of a man who has 88 Bulgaria caps. His contribution to this seasons current success has not gone unnoticed.