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Ashworth sees no conflict of interest after swapping England for Brighton

Former Football Association technical director Dan Ashworth insists there will be no conflict of interest should he try to recruit English talent for new club Brighton.

Ashworth has extensive knowledge of homegrown players at all age levels having spent more than six years with the FA.

The 47-year-old will be an integral part of future recruitment at the Amex Stadium after last week taking up his role as the Seagulls’ first technical director.

“England were my employer and I did my best for England during those six years and never had a conflict of interest,” said Ashworth.

“It’s like (former England boss) Roy Hodgson leaving and becoming Crystal Palace manager – is he not supposed to sign any other English players? I don’t think there’s a conflict of interest at all.

“If we do try and sign players, we go through the correct channels that we would do if I hadn’t have worked for England.

“My job has changed focus now. It’s not just to do what’s best for English players, it’s now what’s best for Brighton.

“If they’re English, then fantastic and nothing would give me more pleasure, but my job has changed to worldwide recruitment rather than English recruitment.”

Ashworth decided to quit his FA role after landing back from last summer’s World Cup in Russia.

With the next World Cup not until November and December 2022, he was keen for a return to the day-to-day duties of club football having previously worked at West Brom.

Despite departing the national team set-up for a team currently battling top-flight relegation, Ashworth dismissed suggestions his new job was a major step down.

“I don’t view it like that at all,” he said.

“Any team that’s trying to stay or get in the Premier League is competing at a top level and a world level.

“International football and club football is different – one’s not better or worse than the other, they’re just different.”

Ashworth was reportedly shortlisted as a potential candidate for a technical director role with Manchester United before it was announced in September that he had been appointed by Brighton.

However, he preferred to remain tight-lipped about the other opportunities he had considered.

“I wouldn’t be prepared to discuss who I did or didn’t speak to,” he said.

“Over the last few years, I’d spoken to a couple of clubs and some were more interesting than others but Brighton was the most interesting role for me and it was a terrific opportunity.”

Ashworth, who has known Albion boss Chris Hughton for a “number of years”, will be responsible for the club’s ongoing football development, as well as overseeing the academy and player recruitment at all levels.

Despite his remit, he insists Hughton will make the final decision on new signings.

“My job is not to try and tell Chris what to do on the pitch or on the training pitch or from a tactical point of view. It’s to help and support him.

“The manager has to have the final say on any player coming into the first team squad. If the manager doesn’t like, fancy, rate a player coming in then clearly the manager is not going to play them.”

While Ashworth was serving a six month notice period, Albion slipped into trouble at the wrong end of the table and sit three points above the drop zone having not won a top-flight game in 2019.

“We’ve got a good squad and a good manager, so I’m confident we’ll still be a Premier League club next year,” he added.