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Middlesbrough man admits he’s ‘had a slow start’ since signing in January

Middlesbrough striker Aaron Connolly grabbed his first goal at his new loan side last weekend, grabbing the second in the 4-1 rout over Derby County.

Middlesbrough signed the Irishman from Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion last month, but after five games he had yet to find the net.

However, with top scorer Andraz Sporar and regular striker partner Duncan Watmore both dropped from the starting eleven, Connolly partnered fellow loanee Folarin Balogun up top against the Rams.

Connolly put in his best performance in a Boro shirt since making the switch last weekend, and scored a vital goal to put Boro back in front at 2-1. The home side ran out 4-1 winners in the end and helped boost their top six chances in the process.

The 22-year-old spoke out in an interview with The Irish Examiner, revealing that he knows he hadn’t got up to speed quickly enough at Middlesbrough.

“I’d text the gaffer [Brighton manager Graham Potter] a couple of times after my first few games saying I’d had a slow start,” he said.

“That was obvious and I’m not going to shy away from that fact.

“So when I came off, he just said, ‘listen, I don’t want to hear you say that again'”.

He went on to say that things are starting to click for him now and that the goal was a huge weight off his shoulders.

“I feel like I’ve found my feet now, I know how to play with all of the players and what they like and don’t like, and they’re starting to learn the same about me.

“I haven’t played a lot of football in the last two years. My career maybe came to a little bit of a stop and my confidence went, so since coming here in January, I’ve been desperate to put in a shift like that.

“It seemed to take an age for the ball to trickle over the line, but it felt like such a relief when it finally did.

“Maybe I’d been putting too much pressure on myself to score. So I just thought, go back to basics, go back to what I used to do. Work hard and the rewards will come with that.”

Middlesbrough take on Bristol City away from home at the weekend where they could jump to as high as fourth with a victory, if other results go their way.

Connolly will be hoping to build on his positive performance against Derby and continue to find the net against the Robins. He could well be rewarded with another start, although Sporar, Watmore, Balogun and youngster Josh Coburn are all also in contention.

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