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Delighted Barnes sets sights on top flight with Brighton

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: April 21, 2011

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From Paulton Rovers to the Premiership – that's the aim for Ashley Barnes.

The 21-year-old from Dunkerton came off the bench to seal Brighton & Hove Albion's promotion from League One with a 4-3 win over Dagenham & Redbridge last week.

He described helping the Seagulls into the Championship as the highlight of his career, which took off at Rovers after playing for several local teams.

"It's fantastic to get promoted and a brilliant thing to have on your CV," he said. "This has been the highlight of my career so far.

"You couldn't have scripted it better, to come off the bench and score the winner to get us promoted.

"My future ambition is to play in the Premiership. If it could be with Brighton that would be brilliant."

Barnes left Paulton to join Plymouth in 2007 and had loan spells at several clubs before impressing enough at Brighton to earn a permanent deal last summer.

Since then he has been a crucial part of their promotion push, scoring 14 goals.

Barnes is still regularly in contact with former Rovers boss Andrew Jones and looks back with fond memories at his time at Winterfield Road.

"It was brilliant at Paulton, they were good times," he said.

"I had a fantastic time with the manager Andrew Jones, he was great to me. I still speak to him at least once every week and I get on really well with him.

"To leave Paulton was obviously a bit disheartening but to go from there to a Football League club was amazing.

"I played quite a few games at Plymouth in the Championship but in my first year I had quite a few appearances out on loan as well."

Barnes started his career as a youngster at Bath Arsenal and also played for Welton Arsenal and Welton Rovers U18s before being snapped up by Paulton.

The former Writhlington School pupil may have an unlikely route to international football as his grandmother on his father's side was born in Austria, potentially qualifying him for the national side.

He has previously been called up to play for Austria U20s but says that his allegiance currently lies with England, although he may reconsider later in his career.

"I want to play for England but it depends how I'm doing in my career," he said.

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