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Brighton strike partner commends confident Connolly

Neal Maupay has heaped praise on the Irish youngster, who played 24 Premier League games last season.

Aaron Connolly celebrates after scoring for Brighton & Hove Albion against Burnley last month.
Aaron Connolly celebrates after scoring for Brighton & Hove Albion against Burnley last month.
Image: Richard Heathcote

BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION’S Neal Maupay has lauded Aaron Connolly on the back of the Irish striker’s breakthrough season in the Premier League.

Having made 24 top-flight appearances during the 2019-20 campaign, Connolly was recently rewarded with a new and improved four-year contract.

The 20-year-old also made the step-up on the international stage, earning two caps under Mick McCarthy in Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Georgia and Switzerland.

He’ll be looking to add to that tally next month after being included in Stephen Kenny’s squad for the forthcoming Uefa Nations League meetings with Bulgaria and Finland.

“Aaron is a young player and he is learning,” said Maupay, who was often partnered by the Galway native when Brighton manager Graham Potter opted for a two-pronged attack.

“It was his first season in the Premier League, but he has got really good qualities. I like him because he has such a high confidence in himself.

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“In training every day he scores goals, he’s not shy to shoot, tackle and compete. We have a really good relationship and at the end of training we do finishing drills together. Everyone likes him because he’s always smiling.”

Connolly announced his arrival by scoring twice in a 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur last October. He found the net again last month, grabbing the winner as Brighton concluded their season with a 2-1 victory at Burnley.

The Seagulls, who finished in 15th place last season, will begin the 2020-21 Premier League campaign by hosting Chelsea on 14 September.

“His celebration sums him up really well,” added Maupay, who scored 10 times during his own first season in the Premier League following last summer’s transfer from Brentford.

“He has confidence in himself and as a striker you need that. He knows how to score goals. When he did that celebration when he scored against Spurs he was kind of saying: ‘you know who I am now, I’m Aaron Connolly.’

“It was brilliant. Everyone was so pleased for him. I remember my first goal which was amazing and he got two which he will remember for the rest of his life. He’s been scoring goals his whole career so he knows what he is doing.”

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Paul Dollery

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