Ireland under-19 striker Aaron Connolly signs new long-term deal with Brighton before going on loan to Luton Town

Fri, Feb 01 2019

Connolly in action for Brighton under-23s against Tottenham Hotspur. Credit: Tottenham Hotspur FC

Republic of Ireland under-19 striker Aaron Connolly has signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract with Brighton & Hove Albion before being loaned to Luton Town until the end of the season.

Connolly is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury and is to continue his rehabilitation at Brighton’s American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.

Once fully recovered, the forward will then link up with League One leaders Luton Town, where he will team up with fellow Irish striker James Collins.

Connolly will still be eligible to play for Brighton’s under-23 side and is expected to play again in the Premier League 2 before lining out for Luton.

The Galway native has scored 17 goals this season for Albion and won the Premier League 2 Player of the Month Award in November.

The Ireland under-19 international is now hoping to push towards Brighton’s first team in the next few seasons.

“I’m delighted because it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while - I’m glad to get it done,” Connolly told Brighton’s official website.

“It’s now about getting fit again and pushing on towards the first team over the next few seasons.

“The length of the deal shows the trust that the club has in me and that means a lot. It shows they have faith in me at the age of 19.

“I want to stay here for as long as I can and make the first team, playing in front of the fans every week.”

Brighton’s under-23 coach Simon Rusk said Connolly deserves his new contract and explained that it’s important the 19-year-old isn’t rushed back into playing.

He said: “Aaron has scored consistently for the under-23s this season, as he continues his development, and he deserves this new contract. 

“Recently he’s been frustrated by injury, but we hope that it won’t be too long before he’s back on the training ground and out on the pitch, continuing the progress he’s made this season.

“This agreement gives Aaron the prospect of a first loan spell playing senior first-team football in League One. 

“It is potentially a great move for him, but what is most important is that he is not rushed back from his current injury. 

“Our medical staff at the club will work with him to get him fully up to speed, and then we will look at him playing for our under-23s in order to get him up to match fitness.

“Once we are satisfied that he is fit and up to speed, he will then join up Luton, and have the opportunity help them in their promotion push.”

Connolly scored against Luton in Brighton’s 2-1 defeat in the Checkatrade Trophy game earlier this season.

Luton interim manager Mick Harford added: “Aaron is very lively. He’s a threat off the back of defenders. He always plays on the shoulder.

“He’s a player we’ve really monitored over the last two or three months, kept tabs on him and watched him on five or six occasions and he’s one we are absolutely thrilled to get into the football club.

“He’ll make the pitch big. He’s aggressive in his runs, he’s dynamic in everything he does, and he’s the right type for us. He’s the right age and hopefully he’ll come here and do well, develop and score us some goals.

“He’s got a bit of a niggle with his hamstring at the moment, so won’t be coming in until he’s fit.

“But when he does come in, we know we’ve got a handful on our hands and he’ll be a massive threat to defences in League One.”