Aaron Connolly has not kicked on in his career in the manner many expected.
A prolific goalscorer at underage level, hopes were high that his transition to senior football would be a smooth one after a brace on his Premier League debut against Spurs.
However, that has not really proven to be the case. While there have been flashes of promise at times, he has also struggled to get a run in the team at Brighton. That is especially true over the last 12 months or so as playing time became increasingly difficult to come by.
It seemed clear that Connolly needed a move away from the Amex this month, something that has now come to fruition after his loan move to Middlesbrough was confirmed in recent days.
He is set to make his debut for the club in the FA cup tie against Mansfield this weekend, and speaking to the media before that game Connolly admitted that the criticism directed at him both on and off the pitch over the last year has affected him.
There’s been stuff said in the media beforehand, probably nothing to do with football really. Most of it is false. You don’t need to believe everything you read.
I don’t know where that comes from. It doesn’t put any more pressure on me. Every game you play your career could be at a crossroads: one minute you could be the best player and another everyone wants you out. I’ve just got to get on with it. It’s the life of being a footballer, I guess...
It will be interesting to see how Connolly will fare at a lower level in the Championship, although the Galway man should have the ability to thrive in the division.
A fresh start was what was needed for 2022, although he could certainly still have a future at Brighton should he impress at Middlesbrough. He will need to rediscover his goalscoring touch in order to ensure such an outcome, something he is keen to do.
Connolly also has his Ireland career to consider, finding himself a bit further down the pecking order under Stephen Kenny as of late having started off as first choice early in the former Dundalk's boss tenure.
Kenny admitted in recent months that he was keen for the 21-year old to go out on loan and get regular football, so you can be sure that he will be keeping a close eye on his progress in the months ahead.