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CONNOLLY WOES Brighton boss urges Aaron Connolly to go easy on himself after Ireland striker reveals concerns

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Brighton striker Aaron Connolly has received the backing of manager Graham Potter (Mike Hewitt/PA)

Brighton striker Aaron Connolly has received the backing of manager Graham Potter (Mike Hewitt/PA)

Brighton striker Aaron Connolly has received the backing of manager Graham Potter (Mike Hewitt/PA)

Brighton manager Graham Potter has admitted Ireland striker Aaron Connolly is too harsh on himself when he misses a chance, as he urged him to learn from his errors.

Connolly missed a golden chance in last weekend's 1-1 draw against Liverpool and his disappointment was there to see as he failed to spark for the rest of the game and was taken off in the second half.

He has scored just two goals for Brighton since his breakthrough performance against Tottenham in October 2019 and told the Sunday World in an exclusive interview in September that his barren run of form was tough to take.

"After having a game like that against Spurs, you could be forgiving for sitting back and thinking it's not too hard to play in the Premier League, but the last year has taught me a lot of lessons," he told us.

"When I look back on that Spurs game now, the whole day is a big blur. I remember sitting in the players' lounge after the game and it was like it hadn't happened.

"Then a few days later, I made my senior Ireland debut and everything I was working towards was happening.

"When you have a week like that, you want it to continue, but it didn't work out like that. You have to do so much to succeed in the Premier League and I realised as much in the year.

"It's a tough league, every team has great players and you need to be on your game every week or you will struggle in that league.

"Going on a long goal drought after the Spurs game reminded me that I am in the toughest league in the world and I feel all the experiences of the last year means I am a better player now."

"It was tough when I didn't score for all that time. I've never had to deal with anything like that in my whole life before.

"In the youth teams I played in and after I moved to England, there was never a time when I didn't score and I'm grateful that my gaffer at Brighton stuck by me and gave me encouragement because it was important at that time.

"It's all part of the learning process when you have a spell without a goal and when you get one, it feels like the pressure is off and you can get more.

"Now I know how tough it is in the Premier League and you need to stay focused and work hard every day to give yourself the best chance when the matches come around."

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Brighton boss Graham Potter is looking forward to having fans back at the AMEX Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)

Brighton boss Graham Potter is looking forward to having fans back at the AMEX Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)

Brighton boss Graham Potter is looking forward to having fans back at the AMEX Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)

Now his manager has gone public in his belief that Connolly is too critical of himself, as he urged him to focus on the task in hand against Brighton on Monday night.

Asked if he needed to work with the the young Irishman, who will hope for another chance against Southampton on Monday evening, to ensure he is not too hard on himself, Brighton manager Potter said: "Yes, I think you do, and he's not the only one.

"It's a constant message. It's the setbacks, it's the mistakes, it's the failures – they're the things that actually define you and make you better because if you learn from them, you can use them to grow.

"I know we all want to win and we all want success and we all want to be winners, but life isn't like that and as young players, you have to help them to understand that, that even the top ones miss chances, even the top ones make mistakes.

"They miss passes, they let goals in, they don't take their chances – that's how it is. The quicker you understand that, the nicer you are to yourself and that's the important thing."

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