'Whilst there is a line, Aaron is a young man and he's learning all the time. Our job is to help him'

Brighton boss Graham Potter on Aaron Connolly and the Irishman’s reaction to his withdrawal last weekend.

Aaron Connolly facing Liverpool last weekend.
Aaron Connolly facing Liverpool last weekend.
Image: PA

BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION boss Graham Potter says he took no issue with Aaron Connolly’s reaction to being substituted against Liverpool last weekend. 

Having impressed against the Premier League champions at the Amex, the Ireland striker was taken off in the 63rd minute with Adam Lallnana — who made a quick exit soon after — the player to come on in his place.

And the Galway 20-year-old showed his frustration with the cameras on him, shaking his head and looking disgruntled.

In a press conference this afternoon ahead of the Seagulls’ upcoming clash clash with Southampton, Potter played the incident down and backed Connolly to hit new heights.

“You have to remember that footballers are also human beings that get disappointed and get frustrated,” the boss said.

“Whilst there is a line, Aaron is a young man and he’s learning all the time. Our job is to help him and support him, to help him reach his maximum.

It’s a balance of course, but I don’t have a massive problem with people making mistakes or doing things that in the cold light of day you’d maybe do something differently, because that’s how you learn and get better.”

In what was Connolly’s first start since early October when Brighton lost 4-2 to Everon, Potter was impressed with what he saw on the pitch.

“He had a really impactful hour and it was a decision to maybe err on the side of caution with him when we took him off,” he said earlier this week, as quoted by SussexLive.

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“I thought Aaron was great. He did exactly what we wanted him to do – we wanted him to run in behind, test their back line and their defence and I thought he helped us do that.

“He threatens the back line and he has got real pace. It means you are either opening up some space in the midfield or you are threatening the goal if you can get the delivery right. We did that quite well.”

“I think he was a little frustrated he missed his chance in the first half and he wanted to stay on,” he added. “In the last three or four weeks he has had a bit of up and down stuff with his hamstring. He missed some international games and he was running around such a lot.”

Connolly was named in Potters’ provisional squad for Monday night’s meeting alongside fellow Irishman Jayson Molumby with Tariq Lamptey returning after completing a one-match ban.

The 20-year-old defender missed last weekend’s draw with Liverpool after being sent off for two bookable offences during the win at Aston Villa on November 21.

Lallana is facing two weeks on the sidelines after aggravating a groin injury during his brief appearance against his former club, while striker Neal Maupay (hamstring) remains a doubt and Davy Propper and Alexis Mac Allister (illness) continue to work their way back.

Meanwhile, Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl could be given a boost by the return of Danny Ings. The Austrian said the striker would be assessed ahead of the trip after he trained with the team for the first time since sustaining an injury against Aston Villa on 1 November.

In Ings’ absence, Hasenhuttl’s men picked up four points from three matches, although the return of the striker – who has already netted five goals in seven league games this season – would be welcomed by the manager.

Michael Obafemi is also in line to feature on Monday.

Brighton provisional squad: Ryan, Steele, White, Webster, Dunk, Bernardo, Burn, Veltman, Bissouma, Trossard, Gross, Jahanbakhsh, Alzate, March, Molumby, Connolly, Maupay, Welbeck.

Southampton provisional squad: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Djenepo, Walcott, Adams, Stephens, Ings, Obafemi, Tella, Diallo, N’Lundulu, Forster.

- with reporting from Press Association.


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