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'He’s only 19, but from day one he showed his quality': Brighton boss impressed by Connolly

Galway teenager Aaron Connolly scored twice on his first Premier League start for Brighton.

Christian Eriksen and Aaron Connolly battle for possession.
Christian Eriksen and Aaron Connolly battle for possession.
Image: Kirsty Wigglesworth

BRIGHTON MANAGER GRAHAM Potter was throughly impressed with Aaron Connolly’s performance against Tottenham on Saturday where the 19-year-old score a brace on his first Premier League start.

Connolly has been integrated into the Seagulls’ senior set-up this campaign, scoring in their League Cup victory over Bristol City in August while also coming off the bench against Man City, Burnley, Chelsea and Newcastle in recent weeks.

The former Mervue United forward moved to the AMEX in 2016 and has hit the ground running. Connolly scored his first against Spurs with a composed, re-bounded finish from close range after goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga made an initial stop.

He added his second in fine style after the interval, taking down a long ball before cutting inside past Belgium international Toby Alderweireld and curling a low effort into Gazzaniga’s bottom corner.

britain-soccer-premier-league The 19-year-old was named man-of-the-match on his first Premier League start. Source: Kirsty Wigglesworth

The Brighton boss said Connolly’s application in training, on top of his impact as a substitute coming off the bench in recent weeks meant handing the 19-year-old his first league start was a no-brainer.

“The decision to select him was probably a combination of reflecting on the Chelsea game, his performances in training, and how he helps with the mentality of being positive and the way he challenges centre-backs,” said Potter.

The striker has been called into Mick McCarthy’s senior Ireland squad for the upcoming Euro qualifiers against Georgia and Switzerland. Potter believes the teenager will continue to grow and mature throughout the rest of the season.

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“He’s a really good lad and is only 19, so there will be times when he’s mature and times when he acts his age,” Potter said.

“That’s normal, but from day one he showed his quality, and he wants to run in behind and threaten the goal. They’re two very good qualities to have.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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