KEITH Andrews will not be allowed to turn out for Brighton against Wanderers at the Reebok tomorrow but Dougie Freedman insists it is not a case of “out of sight, out of mind” with the Irish midfielder.
Shipped out on loan to the Amex Stadium just two games into the current season, the 33-year-old still has two years left to run on his current deal with the Whites.
But while Wanderers’ rush to export the former Wolves and Blackburn man to bring in Jay Spearing back in August appeared to signal the end of his time at the Reebok after only one full season, Freedman spoke of his respect for Andrews at his weekly press conference yesterday and hinted the door may not be as firmly shut on a return as first thought.
Andrews has been a qualified success at Brighton, recently falling behind youngster Rowan Ince for the holding midfield position.
He has, however, made 24 appearances for the Seagulls, scoring a solitary goal against Sheffield Wednesday in October.
And Freedman insists there are no hard feelings as he prepares to welcome Brighton to the Reebok.
“I spoke to Keith and at his age, he wanted to play football, which I respect,” he said.
“He wasn’t one of those who wanted to sit around, so we let him go out on loan and sponsored the deal. “After his loan has finished I expect him back here this summer and we will take it from there.
“If he shows what he is capable of showing in the summer, it is a different season and we can look at it again.”
Freedman says there has been no dialogue with Brighton over a permanent move but having made a similar decision in his own playing career, he believes Andrews was right to seek regular first-team football elsewhere.
“I don’t disagree with Keith and I respect him for that,” he said.
“I have come across many players who sit back, take the money and don’t go anywhere because it is too inconvenient.
“I went to play at Southend and I went to play at Leeds so I agree with him.
“In the summer I can look at my squad and if it is the same, numbers wise, we may be having the same conversation.
“Or if someone leaves we can have a conversation where I can give them a go in the team and say ‘It’s up to you Keith, to hold your place.’ “But that can only wait until the summer."