Connolly keen to push for Brighton role

Brighton and Hove Albion
Seagulls striker Aaron Connolly has been named the Premier League 2 Player of the Season after finishing as the top scorer.

Aaron Connolly has reiterated his desire to make the grade at first-team level for Brighton as soon as possible.

Connolly is one of the brightest lights in Brighton’s academy set-up and the 19-year-old has been tipped to eventually compete for a place in the first-team squad down on the south coast.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international has regularly caught the eye for the club’s youth sides and was at it again on Monday night after he scored twice in the Under-23s’ 2-0 win over Wolves, which kicked off their season.

There was talk Connolly would be allowed out on loan this year in order to get some first-team action, with clubs lower down the football pyramid tracking him, but he is firmly focused on pushing for a first-team role at the Amex Stadium and will aim to continue finding the back of the net for the Under-23s.

Now the aim for the striker is to prove he is good enough to make the grade overall at Brighton. He admits his main ambition is to attract the attention of first-team manager Graham Potter with a view to forcing his way into the side.

He told the club’s website: “I want to play in the Premier League and I want to impress the new gaffer (Potter). I want to break into the first team here with Brighton and with the Republic of Ireland.

“You have to aim high and I hope I get the chance at both levels soon.”

Connolly has done well in big games for Brighton at youth level, scoring five goals in three EFL Trophy games, while he has 11 in 15 Premier League 2 matches for the Seagulls.

It is thought Potter will turn to the teenager in this season’s domestic cup competitions as he rotates his squad, so the Galway-born man will hope to take his chance when it comes.

His path to the first team is unlikely to be straightforward, however, as Potter does have plenty of options up front in the Premier League.

Neal Maupay has been brought in this summer from Brentford and he got his account for the season up and running in the opening win over Watford, while Florin Andone is another striker in the Seagulls’ ranks.

The Romania international also netted in the 3-0 success and Brighton appear well stocked at the moment, with reliable veteran Glenn Murray on the bench at Vicarage Road.