IT was against Wycombe Wanderers, eight games into his spell with Newport County AFC, that Ben White produced a moment that cemented Michael Flynn’s belief that they had a star on their hands.

White could return to Rodney Parade with Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup on Sunday.

While some of the Seagulls will be shocked by the Rodney Parade surface, the 23-year-old defender knows what to expect.

White was a huge hit at County in 2017/18 after signing on loan, making 51 appearances in amber and helping the club to stun Leeds in the FA Cup and force a draw against Spurs.

He headed over the Severn Bridge as a teenager but grew up in Newport, thriving in the rough and tumble.

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“I wasn’t surprised technically, but how he handled men’s football and League Two did impress me,” admitted manager Flynn. “If there was ever one doubt it was about him physically.

“After a few games he went straight through the old Brighton captain Adam El-Abd in a 50/50, came out with the ball and hit a 60-yard diagonal ball straight to, I think, Frank Nouble’s feet. That put everything to bed and there were no worries at all.”

That moment captured why Flynn had moved swiftly to snap up the bright prospect for a season.

“I got notified about him by my agent, Kevin Nicholls. He doesn’t look after Ben but recommended him to us,” said the manager, who had his first full seasonin charge in 2017/18.

“I spoke to Ben on the phone and had to convince him because there were a lot of clubs in for him. Thankfully we managed to do that and we were very fortunate to have a player of that ability at Newport.

“As soon as I saw a minute of his clips I didn’t really have to go and watch him because it was a no-brainer.

“There was a financial penalty attached to the loan if he didn’t play a certain amount of games that maybe could have scared the club but that didn’t even come into my head. I said they could double that if they wanted, because he was that good.”

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Flynn proved to be correct and White’s season in Newport was followed by a spell with Peterborough in League One.

Last season he helped Leeds United to return to the Premier League and he has now slotted into the Brighton side, whether in defence or midfield, while also being linked with a big-money move to Liverpool.

“He is the best loan that the club has ever had. I said that he would go on to play at the top level, which he has done, and I said that he will go on to play for England, which he will do,” said Flynn.

“He is an exceptional lad, I was talking to him on Thursday night and I look forward to seeing him if he is down.

“I am very, very proud of him - he deserves all the credit because all we did was give him a platform to show what he can do.

“He took everything on board, wanted to improve and the sky is the limit when you have a young professional with the attitude and ability that he has got.”