#7 - Chris BirchallChris Birchall admits his club versus country clashes could cost him his place with Albion. Birchall misses next Tuesday’s re-arranged home game against Peterborough to play in Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup qualifier in El Salvador.
The situation will be repeated at the end of next month, when Albion entertain Tranmere on the same day that Trinidad host Honduras.

Birchall leaves on Sunday to link up with the national squad and lands back at Heathrow next Friday morning, 24 hours before the Seagulls face Carlisle at Withdean.

The World Cup campaign could even affect his chances of playing for Albion at Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. The final is on April 5 and Trinidad visit the USA only four days earlier.

Birchall said: “I have got to go, the gaffer understands that. There is no option.

“On the other hand you do think if the team plays well I am going to lose my place but at the end of the day I just want Brighton to win.

“It’s up to the gaffer. Hopefully he will understand and pick me but I can’t be too disappointed if I am left out as soon as I come back.”

Birchall, 24, has already enjoyed a fairytale international career since giant former Wrexham centre half, Dennis Lawrence, approached him during a game when he was playing for Port Vale.

“I didn’t know Dennis at all. He came over to me during the game and said I’ve been told to see if you have got any Trini roots.

“I told him my mum was born there (Port of Spain) and took it from there. I spoke to him after the game, got a few numbers, people phoned me and then a week later I was making my debut.

“It was bizarre how it happened and bizarre how they found out. To this day I don’t know but I have never looked back.”

Birchall became the first white player to represent Trinidad in 60 years. Together with his team-mates, he enjoys superstar status when he returns for matches.

“It’s just like the way the England team are treated over here,” he said. “Football and cricket are massive in Trinidad, the country gets right behind them.

“There will be full houses at home now that we are in the last phase of qualifying. We get great support.

“When I first went over I thought I would experience a bit of racism but there are a lot of white people over there and a lot of different cultures.

“The way people are treated is different to more hostile countries. It was completely friendly, which surprised me.

“The way we get treated is something I could never have imagined.”

Birchall lined up against an England midfield of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Trinidad only lost to late goals by Peter Crouch and Gerrard, and Birchall believes they are better equipped now in the complicated qualifying route to South Africa 2010.

“This is the third stage,” he explained. “In the first stage all the Caribbean nations battle it out, then the second stage is where the South American and Central American teams come in.

“There were three groups of four and the top two from each of those go through to what they call a super six. We qualified with the USA from our group and this is the start of the super six now.

“We play ten games and the top three go through automatically, the fourth into a play-off.

“With the squad we’ve got I think we’ve got a great chance, better than when we qualified last time.

“A lot of the players are English-based. Up front we’ve got Kenwyne Jones, Stern John and Jason Scotland, in midfield Carlos Edwards, me, Dwight Yorke.

“Shaka (Hislop) has retired now but we have also got Kelvin Jack, Ian Cox, Brent Sancho and Dennis (Lawrence) at the back.”