Walsall vs Brighton & Hove Albion U23s preview: How to watch, kick-off time, team news, predicted lineups and ones to watch
 Evan Ferguson of Brighton and Hove Albion during the Premier League 2 match between Leicester City and Brighton & Hove Albion | (Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

On Tuesday evening at 19:00 BST, Andrew Croft's high-flying Brighton & Hove Albion U23s travel to Banks' Stadium, hoping to cause further problems against Sky Bet League Two side, Walsall. The fixture will be the first for both sides in the Papa John's Trophy this season, drawn together in Southern Group D.

The hosts suffered a slow start to the 2021/22 season, losing four of their opening five games, before picking up wins against Stevenage and Mansfield Town to kickstart their season.

The young Seagulls, on the other hand, have enjoyed a flying start to their Premier League 2 campaign and are currently sat in 2nd place, level on points with 1st-placed Manchester City U23s. The visitors come into the game fresh from a 4-1 win against Blackburn Rovers U23s on Friday evening; another win at the Saddlers' expense would see them extend their unbeaten run to five games.

Despite their early struggles, three points for Walsall on Tuesday would equal four home games without defeat, and undoubtedly lift spirits ahead of Saturday's tough trip to Newport County.

Unlike most group stage competitions, a draw in the Papa John's Trophy will result in a penalty shootout to determine which team is awarded an 'extra point'.

Team news

Prior to the Saddlers' 3-1 victory against Mansfield on Saturday, Matt Taylor confirmed that Rory Holden's issue had been 'found and fixed' and that he will remain out for 'mid-term'.

The Walsall manager also confirmed that Connor Wilkinson's hamstring problem has 'settled down', but could not provide a time frame for when the forward might return to action.

The Saddlers will also be without Joss Labadie, who is serving a three-game suspension following his red card in the 1-1 draw at the Valley Parade Stadium.

Predicted lineups

Walsall: Rose; Ward, Taylor, Leak, Mills, Osadebe, Earing, Kinsella, Earing, Kiernan, Phillips.

Brighton U23s: McGill; Furlong, Turns, Offiah, Packham, Dicker, Miller, Leonard, Moran, Peupion, Ferguson.

Ones to watch

Jack Earing

Jack Earing was the Saddlers' fourth signing of the 2021 summer, joining from League Two outfit Halifax Town. The 22-year-old is a product of Bolton Wanderers' academy and was recently described as 'exceptional talented' by Taylor.

The young midfielder opened his account for Walsall last week, in their 1-1 draw with Bradford City. Having heaped praise on Earing last week, Taylor could look to utilise the youngster's creativity against an inexperienced Brighton U23s team on Tuesday evening. 

Evan Ferguson

Evan Ferguson is one of the most exciting prospects in the Premier League 2 at the moment; the 16-year-old is currently joint top scorer in the league, with four goals in as many games. 

After marking his debut with an assist against Chelsea for Bohemian FC when he was just 14 years old, Ferguson joined Brighton in January 2021 for an undisclosed fee. The young forward has already been nominated for the Premier League 2 POTM award this season, and has even been tipped for a place with the first-team by many Seagulls fans.

The game against Walsall on Tuesday could prove to be a massive opportunity for Ferguson, who will be keen to further showcase his ability against a senior backline, given the chance.

Past meetings

Unsurprisingly, Walsall have never played Brighton's U23 team before due to the obvious age gap between the two sides.

However, the Papa John's trophy provides an opportunity for academy teams to test themselves against professional opposition from England's third and fourth tiers.

How to watch

Although the early stages of the competition are generally not televised live, highlights of all of the Papa John's Trophy fixtures can be viewed on Sky Sports News, the Sky Sports app and website.