Brighton & Hove Albion under-23 forward Aaron Connolly praised Max Sanders for his progress on the international stage and was delighted to see the midfielder appear at this month’s Under-19 European Championships.
Connolly, along with the rest of the under-23 squad, tuned in to see Sanders and England take on Turkey before their pre-season friendly with Bognor Regis Town, and the young Irishman was thrilled for his team-mate.
He said, “He’s a good character and was skipper for some time last year. You don’t get the armband for nothing and he’s a good person to have around the changing room.
“He’s a good lad and I’m buzzing for him. We watched the game in the changing room and in the canteen.
“He was doing well from what we saw and hopefully the tournament goes well for him.”
The 18-year-old reflected on the season just gone which saw Albion secure promotion with a memorable play-off final victory over Aston Villa, and is now looking forward to pitting his wits against the very best opposition.
“The Villa game was probably the biggest of my career so far, and there was a mixture of excitement and nerves.
“Those sort of games are the reason why you play football, and thankfully it went our way.
“Next season we’ll be playing the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham Man City, Arsenal and then both Bayern and Benfica in the International Cup, so you can’t really ask for a better test.
“We know it’s going to be a step up, but we’ll be ready for it. We’ve got a good enough team and good enough staff around us to ensure we’re in the best possible shape for the start of the season.”
The forward was speaking after the 2-1 pre-season friendly defeat to Bognor on Tuesday, and he reflected on what’s been a pre-season of hard graft for the squad.
“You want tests against good teams in pre-season and they showed that no team can be underestimated - but we’re still getting back into the swing of things.
“It’s been a good summer so far; we went off to Portugal and it was nice to get back into the rhythm of things and to be playing games. I look forward to playing more in the coming weeks.”