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Thursday 14 November 2019

Potter to 'look after' Aaron

Aaron Connolly has burst onto the senior scene for club and country
Aaron Connolly has burst onto the senior scene for club and country

Brighton manager Graham Potter has vowed to "look after" Aaron Connolly after his meteoric rise for club and country over the last couple of weeks.

Connolly announced his arrival on the Premier League stage on the grand manner as he scored twice against Tottenham in the last round of fixtures, with that performance earning him a call-up to Mick McCarthy's senior Ireland squad.

Role

The 19-year-old then played a role in both of Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Georgia and Switzerland and now has to get his feet back on the ground ahead of Brighton's game against Aston Villa tomorrow.

"He's had quite a couple of weeks. We have to look after him, make sure that he has a long successful career," stated Potter.

"He was great in the (Tottenham) game for us, not just his goals, I thought his overall contribution to the team was really good, pressed well, defended well.

"Then just for him to get that international debut, it's fantastic for him. Disappointed, obviously, for him and the Irish boys that the result wasn't what they wanted."

Connolly received his Premier League Debut Ball, handed out to all 'homegrown' youth-team graduates who make a maiden appearance in English football's top flight, and he spoke to the Brighton website about realising his dream of being on the same pitch as his hero Sergio Aguero for his debut at Manchester City in August.

"Playing in the Premier League is what I have been working for since I came to Brighton, so to walk out and play in the game at Man City was a big honour for me, my family, and everyone that's been involved, both club wise and back home as well," stated Connolly.

"That game gave me a good chance to see the level that's required if I wanted to play in the Premier League. To play against one of the best teams in Europe on my debut was mad, but a good learning curve to start my career.

"His (Aguero) movement is unbelievable, and I'm not sure if he touched the ball that much, but he scored two goals in the game.

"To be on the same pitch as him, after growing up and looking up to him, was mad.

"Now I'm hungry for more and want to play against bigger and better players in the future.

Tournament

"When Brighton first looked at me, I was playing for Ireland's under-16s in an international tournament back home.

"Mark Anderson, who was a scout here, brought me over and from the moment I arrived, I just felt right at home."

The emergence of Connolly and summer arrival of Neal Maupay, who claimed the other goal in the 3-0 win over Spurs on October 5, has restricted the first-team action of last season's top scorer Glenn Murray.

Potter praised the attitude of 36-year-old striker Murray and feels he is an ideal mentor for Connolly and Maupay.

"It's been impeccable, to be honest. Really, really supportive of the lads," Potter said of Murray's response to being sidelined.

"They're two young guys but having someone like Glenn around helps them enormously and he's selfless in that regard, speaks to Aaron, speaks to Neal, wants them to do well.

"All the guys in the group have got huge respect for him.

"The way he's been amongst the players, the way he's been with the young guys has been fantastic. And you need those players around when you've got a couple of young lads, it's so important."

Potter also revealed winger Leandro Trossard has returned to training following a groin problem and could be involved at Villa Park.

The Belgian, signed from Genk in the summer, has not featured since the 4-0 defeat at Manchester City on August 31.

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