This is the reason why Brighton and Hove Albion's Steven Alzate was called-up by Colombia

I was surprised when Steven Alzate was named in the Colombian under-23 squad earlier this month.

Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 8:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 8:46 pm
Brighton's Steven Alzate takes on Mason Mount of Chelsea

Not because I believed it was too soon, but because I thought he was probably good enough to get into the senior set-up.

Alzate, 21, did withdraw from the under-23 squad before the last international break due to a "minor injury". But following today's call-up to the senior squad, he now has his chance to impress the former Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz, who is currently in charge of the Colombian team.

Queiroz is keen to to take a closer look at the attacking midfielder who has made just five Premier League appearances.

Alzate, who is from London and born to Colombian parents, has been selected as part of an initial 34-man squad for the friendlies against Peru on November 15 and Ecuador on November 19, to be played in Miami and New Jersey.

The squad will be cut before the matches and there is a possibility the Albion man could still represent the under-23s in Japan.

Colombia, who were beaten in the knock-out stages of last year's World Cup by England, are 10th in the Fifa rankings, ahead of Germany and Holland and one spot behind Argentina - they have a squad full of talent.

Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina, Tottenham defender Davidson Sanchez, Everton's Yerry Mina and also Juan Cuadrado, who once signed for Chelsea from Fiorentina for £30m before moving to Juventus. Rangers'prolific but temperamental striker Alfredo Morelos is included as is Jefferson Lerma of Bournemouth.

In the recent Copa America, where they lost on penalties to Chile in the quarters, their team also featured Real Madrid star James Rodriguez, who is currently on loan at Bayern Munich and striker Radamel Falcao.

“It does feel a bit like a dream with making my Premier League debut a few months ago and now getting this call-up, but it’s fantastic for me," said the the young Albion man. “Things are happening quickly for me at the moment, probably quicker than I expected to be honest, but it’s about staying level-headed and grounded."

Having witnessed each of his Premier League displays for Albion, you get the feeling he will fit straight in. On his debut at Newcastle he was man-of-match, while at Chelsea - in Brighton's worst display of the season - Alzate was their best player.

In the second half he was the one prepared to take the ball on the turn and run at defenders in an attempt to create an opening. Dan Burn,s header that hit the cross bar, when the score was 1-0, all stemmed from a incisive and clever move from Alzate that breached the defence.

Against Spurs he was excellent and many people, including myself, were surprised to see him dropped at Aston Villa. When he did enter the frantic action at Villa Park, Albion were down to 10-men and clinging on for a draw.

Even though they lost at the death, his performance was calm and assured. Alzate was recalled for Everton and he stood up to a more robust and physical challenge. When the game did open up, he displayed the fitness and skills to cause problems.

He also has the confidence to take his player on when one-on-one. It's a bit of nightmare for defenders as he goes at pace and can go either side. On one occasion against Everton he had the full back isolated, cut inside and his shot narrowly rose over the bar.

Neal Maupay gave him the stern, "I was open" look but it's nice to see Alzate has that confidence and his instinct is always to turn and attack. He is comfortable in all areas and has played wing back, right, left and central midfield - sometimes in the same match.

Four games in and he looks like a seasoned Premier League player but there are also a few signs that everything is fresh. He still gets a bit lost in the mix zone after the match and looks a bit surprised when reporters want to talk to him. With his performances on the field, it's easy to forget he's only five games into a his Premier League career.

Brighton head coach Graham Potter liked Alzate from the start. When many press conferences focused on Aaron Connolly - who was named in the provisional Republic of Ireland squad today - Potter would, without fail, quickly include Alzate into the equation.

Alzate clearly has the ability but Potter also deserves huge credit for being bold enough to trust him at what was a crucial stage of the season for Brighton and indeed a crucial time in Potter's managerial career. Many head coaches would not have taken that gamble.

It's still early days but Albion have a talent on their hands and Carlos Queiroz will soon witness that too.