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Seagulls' Connolly recovering from surgery


OPERATION: Brighton’s Aaron Connolly. Photo: Getty Images

OPERATION: Brighton’s Aaron Connolly. Photo: Getty Images

OPERATION: Brighton’s Aaron Connolly. Photo: Getty Images

Brighton striker Aaron Connolly is unlikely to be available for Ireland's Euro 2020 play-off or Under-21 qualifiers in June, if those games do go ahead, after his club confirmed he has had surgery on an ankle injury.

Connolly, like all other players right now, is in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Premier League clubs like Brighton asking their players to stay fit by training on their own at home so they can be close to full fitness if and when the season resumes.

Clubs are, of course, no clearer on when football can resume, with plans reportedly in place for matches to start again in July as the current resumption date of April 30 looks unrealistic.

There is an ongoing debate over whether the season can be paused and restarted when conditions allow, or else just declared null and void if the lockdown extends with no end in sight.

It's therefore highly unlikely that the tie will go ahead but Ireland's play-off in Slovakia is provisionally fixed for June 4, and if the game is played, Connolly would not be fit to feature.

The same applies if the U-21 Euro qualifiers, fixed for March, are moved to June, as he will need time to recover from surgery.

"Aaron picked it up in a training ground collision, essentially, one of his ligaments. He just had some surgery to correct that," manager Graham Potter confirmed.

"He is in a pot (protective boot) at the moment, he is on the mend, making progress. But it is early stages of his rehab.

"It is going to be a few weeks of rehab for him and obviously all our efforts are on trying to make sure he gets the right amount and the correct rehab to make sure he comes back stronger.

"It was in the week before the Arsenal game, ironically. That was a bit of a blow for us."

Galway lad Connolly had scored three times in 19 games for Brighton this season and he had been in talks with the club on a new contract, though discussions had stalled before he picked up his injury.