Premier League heartache after Brentford exit - but ex-Portsmouth youngster backed to bounce back
Amid the euphoria of Brentford’s promotion to the Premier League, there was the heartbreak of farewell.
Sadly, Ethan Robb’s journey would not be extended into the top flight.
The former Pompey Academy graduate had spent six months on loan with the Bees’ under-23s, bidding to win a permanent move.
Spotted after just 13 matches with Bognor, the teenager quit full-time employment at Thornton Builders in January to chase his dream of professional football.
After his summer release by the Premier League newcomers, the ex-Horndean Technology College pupil has returned to the Rocks, featuring 15 times so far this season.
And coach Robbie Blake is convinced Robb should not yet be giving up on Football League ambition.
Blake told The News: ‘Brentford got promoted to the Premier League and, by all accounts, Ethan did very well, but I would imagine it becomes an extra level.
‘Having spoken to Ethan, maybe that was a step higher. If he had gone a little lower that might have been better for him – and he still has time to do that.
‘It’s a real jump from this level with Bognor to high in the Championship and the Premier League.
‘Ethan’s had a taste for it, though, and I’m pretty sure he is desperate to get back in there. If he keeps on the path then I think he can.
‘He has been great for us this season, he’s so composed on the ball. The one thing I’ve spoken to him about is that sometimes, when games don’t start particularly well for him, he goes into his shell a bit and does the reverse of how he should play.
‘That will come with time, it will come with experience, when he needs to understand “Let’s do the next five things simple and get myself back into the game”.
‘He’s a lovely kid, still young and a talented lad. There’s plenty of time to get back into the professional game.’
Clanfield-based Robb had been on Pompey’s book since under-14 level before his release in the summer of 2020 at the end of a two-year scholarship.
Following trials at Moneyfields and Portchester, he joined the Rocks in August 2020, where he came to the attention of a Brentford scout.
This summer he returned to Nyewood Lane, signing a 12-month deal.
And the versatile Robb has established himself as a first-choice for the Isthmian Premier side.
Blake added: ‘We often play Ethan in midfield as a point down, but he can also go into a midfield two, and we have used him as a centre-half.
‘He has shone in the middle of a back three because he has that responsibility where he can step in and become a midfielder when we've got the ball.
‘It’s important we get local Pompey talent to come down because we feel that - with the pitch we have and the way we try to play – we can help their development.’
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