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Potter: Brighton star Connolly must be protected

by ace
Aaron Connolly Brighton Tottenham

Date Posted: Thursday, 17 October 2019 3:18

Brighton boss Graham Potter says 19-year-old Aaron Connolly needs to be protected after his rapid rise from the academy perspective to international striker.

Connolly debuted for the Republic of Ireland last weekend, coming off the bench in a goalless draw in Georgia before playing the first 69 minutes of Tuesday's 2-0 defeat to Switzerland.

The teenager's rise to the national team followed two goals against Tottenham in their first Premier League game less than two weeks ago.

Potter is excited about Connolly's initial progress, but wants to make sure he doesn't fail.

"He spent a few weeks, didn't he? We have to take care of him, make sure he has a long successful career," Potter said ahead of Saturday's Aston Villa game.

“But he was great at the (Spurs) game for us, not just his goals, I thought his overall contribution to the team was very good, pressed and defended.

"And so just for him to have this international debut is fantastic for him – obviously disappointed for him and the Irish boys because the result was not what they wanted.

"But this is also part of life, he has to deal with it and now it's time to get it back and see how he's doing over the weekend."

Connolly's emergence and the arrival of Neal Maupay in the summer, which scored the other goal in the 3-0 win over Spurs on October 5, restricted the 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. It really really supports the guys," Potter said of Murray's response to being dropped.

"They are two young people, but having someone like Glenn around helps them enormously and he is selfless in that sense, talks to Aaron, talks to Neal, wants them to do well.

“All the guys in the group have a huge respect for him.

"The way he was among the players, the way he was with the boys has been fantastic. And you need these players when you have two boys, it's so important."

Potter also revealed that winger Leandro Trossard has returned to training after a groin problem and may be involved in Villa Park.

The Belgian, hired by Genk in the summer, has not appeared since his 4-0 defeat at Manchester City on 31 August.

"We need to be careful with him, he's probably not ready to start over the weekend, I think it's fair to say," said Potter.

"We will make a decision this afternoon and tomorrow to know if he is in the group."

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